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Cathedral Isn't for Everyone on Its Day of Dedication

September 04, 2002

As Cardinal Roger Mahony gave his liturgy before the special-invite-only audience at the inauguration of the nearly $200-million Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Monday, many of the city's faithful, who traveled from all corners of the city to catch a glimpse of the much-hyped edifice, were turned away. I, like many others who had the day off this Labor Day holiday and went in hopes of getting blessed at the new cathedral, never got beyond the chain-link fence surrounding the security-guard-laden perimeter.

After the disappointment of being denied entrance, I stood on Grand Avenue as person after person was turned away, many of them old Latina ladies with rosary beads around their necks. After the service, those on the way out were mostly affluent technocrats with gift shop bags in hand. It was a sad sight for the troubled Catholic Church. As one man who complained to the guard after being turned away put it, "God doesn't deny you entrance into his kingdom because you're poor. Why do you?" I guess some things never change.

Oscar Cisneros

San Diego

*

Despite all the spin, the new cathedral is spiritless, the building boxy, the interior pedestrian--like the CEO prelate who had it built. The tapestries, though meant to defer to Jose Rafael Moneo's "masterpiece," are indicative of the whole within, as unimaginative and shallow as the heralded architecture. Only the altar stands as a work of art, and perhaps the body of the Madonna, but definitely not her hard-featured face. If this structure is supposed to symbolize the future, how boring it's going to be. If, on the other hand, this cathedral is supposed to be struggling to find our communal identity, then perhaps at that it has succeeded and reflects Los Angeles, a place perhaps sadly spiritless, more spin than substance--hardly inspiring or given to true enthusiasm (from the Greek, meaning "God within").

What a disappointment; nothing spirals up to the sky, reaching for the indefinable, imperishable, incomprehensible we call the liberating God of love, so it fails to touch the spiritual depths of our being as well. The cathedral could have been ultramodern and done that; unfortunately, it did not.

Vincent Virom Coppola

North Hills

*

This cathedral is a monolith to the god of conspicuous consumption. With so much poverty in the world, this superficial display of the church's wealth is a disgrace. Hospitals, housing for the homeless, the work of Mother Teresa--these are the true works of God.

Sharon Eckardt

Los Osos

*

I thank Steve Lopez for his many months of unflattering potshots at the cathedral ("Parking Fee May Pave Way to Forgiveness, Even Heaven," Aug. 30). Nothing has galvanized my support for the cathedral as much as his facile criticism and shrill writing.

Lopez laments steep parking fees at the cathedral. Then, sentences later, he admits that parking "will be validated for those attending Mass." That kind of contradiction helps me pinpoint the paving stone-size chip on the journalist's shoulder. But I worry that Lopez will think his efforts have been for naught. Despite his inveighing against it, the cathedral opened this week. It will serve as a sacred space for our community long after his writings have turned to dust. The least we can do in return is give him a free parking space.

John W. Christian

South Pasadena

*

Kudos for the best Lopez column yet on the "Taj Mahony." Mahony is the personification of greed, self-indulgence and vanity. He makes Ken Lay of Enron look like a monk who took a vow of poverty. The Reformation was at least in part about the corruption of selling indulgences to build St. Peter's in Rome. Not much has changed in 500 years. Except now, Mahony and his ilk are selling wine, crypts and parking. Somebody should sue Caltrans to prevent California taxpayers from funding Mahony's $25-million private driveway off the freeway.

Joseph P. Bonino

Glendale

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