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Patrick Flores: 1929—: Roman Catholic Archbishop

From Bishop To Archbishop

In 1978 Flores advanced to bishop of the diocese of El Paso, Texas. Within months, his career made an even greater leap after he returned to San Antonio to serve as archbishop of the largest archdiocese in the United States. In Thomas J. Reese's text Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, the author used Flores's rise from parish work to archbishop as an example of "vox populi"—a spontaneous grassroots selection based on parishioners' love and respect. His responsibilities encompassed one million Catholics living in a broad span of territory reaching north from the Texas-Mexico border into the uplands. Among the prickly issues he weathered were charges of a church cover-up in the child molestation scandal involving two diocese priests, Father Xavier Ortiz-Dietz and the Reverend Federico Fernandez.

At home in the archdiocese of San Antonio, Flores does not think of himself as a racial or ethnic role model. Rather, he accepted as his calling a lifetime ministry to people of all cultural backgrounds, particularly the poor fleeing misery in Central America. As a fellow Texan known simply as Patrick or Patricio and nicknamed the "mariachi bishop," he hasn't allowed piety or majesty to overrule his love of celebration, Latino music and dance, and congenial fun. He has cooked benefit breakfasts, fought urban violence, hosted retreats for married couples, and joined "Kissa-Pig" contests to support the American Diabetes Foundation. In addition to providing transportation for a parental support group for death-row inmates, he has raised funds to defray utility and medical bills for needy families and to support the San Antonio Battered Women's Shelter.

Flores has displayed a courage and flair in the execution of priestly duties that has cinched his reputation for resolve. He extended hospitality to Pope John Paul II during his 1987 visit to San Antonio by offering a room at the archbishop's residence next door to the chancellery. During a 1997 land-use lawsuit that progressed to the Supreme Court, Flores represented the congregation of Beorne, Texas, in demanding the right to a permit from the city of Beorne to enlarge a church that has been declared an historic property. In his world travels, he has been spokesman for the entire American Catholic Church, a task that attests to the trust he has earned from followers of the faith.

Two public events exemplify Flores's openness toward people of all faiths and his intent to bring Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together in commitment to faith and spirituality. In 1997, before a four-night religious crusade at San Antonio's Alamodome in Hemisfair Park, he supported Dr. Billy Graham's evangelistic mission by taping radio promotions in English and Spanish. In gratitude for the 247, 500 attendees from fifty denominations, many from seventy area Catholic Churches, Graham credited Flores for encouraging the record response among largely Catholic Hispanics, who comprise 60 percent of the city's population. On January 1, 2000, during a joint Catholic-Protestant service at Trinity Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Flores joined Lutheran bishop James Bennett in a public embrace to perpetuate the spirit of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The gesture commemorated the abolition of doctrinal condemnations issued by Protestants and Catholics against each other during the Reformation.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Trevor Edwards Biography - Accepted Wisdom from His Mother to Francisco Franco (1892–1975) BiographyPatrick Flores: 1929—: Roman Catholic Archbishop Biography - Mexican-american Roots, From Bishop To Archbishop, Ministered To The Oppressed, Rewards For Character And Trust In Parishioners