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Archdiocese Gets Ready to Open Its Showpiece


From Cardinal Roger M. Mahony rehearsing before a TelePrompTer to engineers adjusting the flow of a waterfall, last-minute preparations were being made Sunday for today's dedication of the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The $200-million, 12-story cathedral and conference center overlooking the Hollywood Freeway will become the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest.

Pope John Paul II's ambassador to the United States, Apostolic Pro-nuncio Gabriele Montalvo, and 10 U.S. cardinals arrived over the weekend.

They were expected to join nearly 700 bishops, priests and deacons and more than 2,000 major donors, including business executives and figures from the entertainment world, at the three-hour dedication Monday. Also attending will be artists and sculptors who designed and crafted the cathedral's works of art, along with representatives of construction workers and local parishes.

Others expected include the Spanish architect, Jose Rafael Moneo, who designed the cathedral; the executive architect, Leo A. Daly; and executives of Morley Construction Co.

The service, which is to begin at 10 a.m., is by invitation only. The cathedral will be open to the public Tuesday.

Throughout the weekend, workers were positioning chairs in some of the chapels, testing the public address system and polishing large glass panes etched with the names of those who contributed. Across the 2.5-acre plaza, other workers were busy getting the conference center's gift shop and cafe ready.

Among those preparing for the big day was Mahony, who was using TelePrompTers Friday to read his inaugural homily in the 58,000-square-foot cathedral, which was empty except for a few workers.

"Every minute there's something new, and something changed from the minute before," said an archdiocese spokesman, Tod Tamberg.

Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles who has overseen the cathedral's planning and construction, was scheduled to host a dinner Sunday night for 10 of his fellow cardinals and 56 bishops at his residence on the cathedral grounds. Mahony and his auxiliary bishops gave them a personal tour of the cathedral Sunday afternoon.

At the same time, demonstrators were expected to gather nearby just off the cathedral grounds for candlelight vigils. Some, including members of the Catholic Worker, which operates a downtown soup kitchen that serves the poor, said they would protest the cathedral's cost.

Others were expected to remind the church of its failure to protect minors from sexually abusive priests and bishops. But another group, El Sembrador, a Latino Catholic evangelization group, said it would be on hand to lend its support to Mahony and the church.

Noel Diaz, director of El Sembrador, said members would carry signs that read: "Cardinal Mahony, Our Prayers Are With You."

Police planned to close off Temple Street between Grand Avenue and Hill Street from 1 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. The block of Temple directly in front of the cathedral plaza has been designated for television broadcast trucks. Hill Street and Grand Avenue will remain open, but there will be one less lane on Hill for through traffic. Chain-link fences were erected Sunday around the county buildings across Temple from the cathedral.

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