Cardinal Roger Mahony is interviewed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
Built in the 18th century, Our Lady Queen of Angels Church on Olvera Street is a historic landmark that Cardinal Roger Mahony would frequently visit for various events, including the popular blessing of the animals.
But on Thursday, the mood at the Spanish Colonial chapel was decidedly more sober as parishioners quietly discussed Archbishop Jose H. Gomez's dramatic decision to strip Mahony of any public and administrative church duties in the wake of the priest abuse scandal.
There were only a handful of people at the church Thursday evening. But when Mahony's name was mentioned, others came to join the discussion.
"They seem to be taking drastic measures," said Ralph Ochoa, a food volunteer. "They have to for the church to survive. A lot of people were hurt, they feel they were betrayed. It hurt parishioners and everyone too."
Gomez took the action after the release of church records showing that Mahony and another church leader tried to hide child abuse by priests from police.
Richard Estrada, a church volunteer from Los Angeles, said he remained skeptical that Mahony participated in the cover-up, adding that if he did, he was trying to protect the church.
"But it hurts everybody," said Jose Lopez, a minister who said he become religious after multiple stints in prison. "Forget about embarrassment, it's hurting the kids."
"The whole thing is just a shame," Estrada replied.
Ochoa started to interrupt, then paused. The group went quiet. He then took a small breath and spoke.
"I really think Mahony is a disgrace," he said. "I really do. No matter what we say or do, no one knows. He'll get his judgment."
"If it's true," Estrada jumped in.
"We have to believe it's true," Ochoa said. "To keep our faith in the church."