New L.A. Cathedral Opens Its Doors
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The newest U.S. cathedral opened Monday amid prayers and controversy as protesters condemned the $195 million cost and Roman Catholics continued to struggle with a national sex abuse scandal.
Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral was dedicated during a three-hour service that incorporated the many ethnic backgrounds of the community's faithful, from Vietnamese singing to African drumming to children in traditional Mexican dress.
Cardinal Roger Mahony led a procession of some 3,000 people, including more than 560 priests, bishops and other clergy, through the sweltering 90-degree heat of the courtyard, past the 25-ton bronze doors and into the cool stone interior.
"My friends, welcome to the city's and your new cathedral," a beaming Mahony said as guests settled into the new cherrywood pews. "It is truly exhilarating to see it filled with people ... this is what it is all about."
Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo, whose style is noted for combining classic architectural themes with modern designs, built the towering, 11-story cathedral with asymmetrical design and lack of right angles.
While its sandstone-colored walls evoke visions of California's 18th century Spanish missions, some critics have compared the cathedral's austere, modernistic look to a prison.
Mahony and supporters see the cathedral a symbolic new beginning for the nation's largest archdiocese, one of many that has suffered from the scandal of sexual abuse allegations against priests.
Built on a hill overlooking the traffic-choked Hollywood Freeway, the cathedral also stands as a reflection of Mahony's commitment to the city's downtown. Along with drawing from California's 9 million Roman Catholics, it is expected to draw tourists from Europe, South America and Asia and become a focal point for downtown redevelopment.