Roger Mahony

Roger Michael Cardinal Mahony (born February 27, 1936) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently serves as the fourth Archbishop of Los Angeles, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1991.

Early life

Roger Michael Mahony was born in Hollywood, California, the son of Victor and Loretta (née Baron) Mahony. His father was a poultry farmer, and he has a twin brother, Louis, and an older brother, Neil. As a child he attended St. Charles Grammar School, north of Hollywood, and at age 14 he entered the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

After studying at the Our Lady of Angels Seminary and St. John's Seminary, Mahony was ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 1962 by Bishop of Monterey-Fresno Aloysius Willinger, CSsR. He graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1964 with a master's degree in social work. For the next 13 years, he held pastoral and curial assignments in the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno and the newly formed Diocese of Fresno, and was named a Monsignor in February 1967. He also taught social work at Fresno State University during this period.

Church career

On January 7, 1975, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Fresno and titular bishop of Tamascani. Mahony received his episcopal consecration on the following March 19 from Bishop of Fresno Hugh Donohue, with Bishops William Johnson and John Cummins serving as co-consecrators. That year, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Mahony the first chair of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, where he worked with the United Farm Workers and various growers in the state to resolve labor disputes.

On February 15, 1980, Mahony was appointed Bishop of Stockton. Mahony has admitted to firing at least two priests for sexual abuse during his tenure at Stockton, although critics believe there were additional cases during this time.

On July 16, 1985, Mahony was promoted to Archbishop of Los Angeles, the first native Angeleno to hold the office. Mahony was created Cardinal Priest of Santi Quattro Coronati by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of June 28, 1991.

After the former Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Mahony began plans to construct the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, one of the largest Catholic churches in the United States. It was dedicated on September 2, 2002.

Mahony was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. Mahony will be eligible to participate in any future conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on February 27, 2016.

Civic involvement

Mahony serves on a number of committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including those on Liturgy and Pro-Life Activities.

He was a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1984-1989) and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (1986-1991), Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1989-present), and Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (2000-present).

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America.


Mahony has caused controversy among different segments of people in the Church. Some Catholics were upset about the large amount of money that was spent on the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, outside of which the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Movement held protests. Mahony defended the expense of the new cathedral to replace the previous earthquake-damaged church citing the need for a community to have a religious center that united people in faith and spirituality.

Some Catholics were upset by statements by Mahony on celibacy and the liturgy. Mahony wrote a letter on the Mass entitled "Gather Faithfully Together: A Guide for Sunday Mass". The resulting controversy from this letter over the liturgy and the Eucharist led to a public feud between Mahony and Mother Angelica.

Mahony spoke out on provisions in immigration bills, such as the Sensenbrenner-King Bill, debated by Congress in late 2005 and 2006. He wrote to President Bush that certain proposed measures would effectively outlaw the provision of charitable assistance and religious ministry to individuals not in valid immigration status. On Ash Wednesday, 2006, Cardinal Mahony announced that he would order the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to ignore H.R. 4437 if it were to become law. He personally lobbied senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to have the Senate consider a comprehensive immigration reform bill, rather than the enforcement-only bill that passed the House of Representatives. Mahony also blamed the Congress for the illegal immigration crisis due to their failure to act on the issue in the previous 20 years, opposed H.R. 4437 as punitive and open to abusive interpretation, and supported S. 2611.

In July 2007, Mahony claims to have been violently attacked by an assailant who recognized him while he was mailing a letter near the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; he did not report the incident to police and it only came to public attention after it was mentioned at an October gathering of priests.

Sexual abuse cases

Challenging aspects of investigations of sexual abuse

Mahony appealed an attempt to gain access to church documents relating to sexual abuse all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court refused to hear the appeal, and the decision required the archdiocese to comply with a subpoena from the Los Angeles County District Attorney for letters to the former priests and notes from counseling sessions conducted by the church.

Oliver O'Grady

The 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil is based on accusations that Mahony knew that Oliver O'Grady, a priest who sexually abused children, including a nine-month-old baby, in a string of Central California towns for 20 years, was a child molester but failed to keep him away from children. In 1984, a Stockton police investigation into sexual abuse allegations against O'Grady was reportedly closed after diocesan officials promised to remove the priest from any contact with children. Instead, he was reassigned to a parish about east, in San Andreas, where he continued to molest children. Not long after, Mahony was promoted to archbishop of Los Angeles, the largest Catholic diocese in the country. In Deliver Us From Evil, O'Grady says Mahony was "very supportive and very compassionate and that another situation had been smoothly handled". Mahony denies knowing that O’Grady was a child molester.


On July 16, 2007, Mahony and the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles apologized for abuses by priests after 508 victims reached to a record-breaking settlement worth $660m (£324m), with an average of $1.3m for each plaintiff. Mahony described the abuse as a "terrible sin and crime", after a series of trials into sex abuse claims since the 1940s were to begin. The agreement, if approved by a judge, will settle all 15 upcoming pedophilia trials against the Los Angeles archdiocese and avoids the threat of Mahony being forced to testify about how the Church dealt with abuses spanning the 1940s to 1990s. Since 2002 nearly 1,000 people filed sexual abuse claims in California. The $660m-deal dwarfs the $157m settlement paid by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Mexico case

On September 11, 2007, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) accused Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera of having in bad faith transferred a priest he knew had committed sexual offenses upon children to the United States in order to cover up the crimes. Joaquín Aguilar Méndez stated that he was raped by priest Nicolás Aguilar in Mexico City in 1994 (at age 12). A damage suit accused Rivera and Mahony of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and sexual battery.

Episcopal succession

See also


External links

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