Cardinal Timothy Manning guided the Archdiocese of Los Angeles during 15 of its most tumultuous years of growth. His style of leadership was as gentle as his manner, but on important matters he knew where his church should go and guided it with quiet precision.
He made certain, for example, that the archdiocese made room for and made welcome hundreds of thousands of Latino immigrants, a pastoral obligation largely overlooked before he assumed leadership in 1970. He created a forum that gave the parishes of East Los Angeles their voice in affairs of the archdiocese and established a department in the Catholic Welfare Bureau to help eligible immigrants gain citizenship.
Manning was not a dynamic leader, but he was a superb listener and his calm approach was essential to seeing his diocese through years of expansion that six year ago led it past Chicago in Catholic population.
Because of his quiet demeanor, Manning’s description of the nuclear arms race in the early 1980s as a “dance of death” surprised many Southern Californians. It need not have. It was quite consistent with the gentle nature of Manning, who died of cancer Friday at age 79.