It is a joy for me to be with you in this traditional place of meeting and to take part in this special encounter.
I am proud to stand with my brothers and sisters from the four Nations whose sacred homelands lie within the boundaries of what is today the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — the Chumash, the Tataviam, the Tongva, and the Acjachemen.
Today we are taking another step together on the road to the healing of memories.
We recognize that our shared history has often been a long trail of tears — marked by broken promises, bitter misunderstandings and painful injustices.
Today we commit ourselves to going forward on a path of mutual respect, recognition and dialogue.
We honor the rich contributions that the “first peoples” of the land have made to the Catholic Church from the beginning — here in Los Angeles and throughout the Americas.
In a special way, we honor the role played by the four Nations in building up the original missions of Santa Ines, Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura, San Fernando, San Gabriel, and San Juan Capistrano.
These protocols that we are are signing today are not a treaty or a legal document.
They are a promise. A promise that we will work together so that our future will be more hopeful than our past.
What we are doing today is historic. In signing this document, we become only the third Catholic community in this country to recognize our duty to honor the ancient heritage and inherent rights of our Native American peoples.
And on behalf of the Catholic Church, I pledge to stand with you. As your brother and as your friend. I pledge that we will defend and encourage your cultures and languages, your traditions and spirituality.
So, my brothers and sisters, as we sign these protocols, let us continue to walk together — always forward in prayer and with confidence in our Creator.