L.A. Archdiocese still on course to build cathedral
Judge rules in its favor
March 22, 1998
Web posted at: 6:23 p.m. EDT (1823 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Construction of a new cathedral for the Los Angeles Archdiocese may finally move ahead now that a judge has rejected a Native-American claim that the property
is an ancient burial ground.
The Shoshone Gabrielino Indians argued that the site for the
new cathedral, which will replace the former archdiocese seat
of St. Vibiana, was an ancient burial ground.
"It wasn't new to me that this was going to happen, because
we've been let down so many different ways," said Vera Rocha
of the Shoshone Gabrielino Indian tribe after last Thursday's
The new cathedral is to replace the 120-year-old earthquake-
damaged St. Vibiana Cathedral, which was closed in 1995.
The archdiocese learned last October that a skull and bones,
possibly those of an Indian, had been found on the property
in 1957, and that the remains were taken to a museum.
Despite winning the recent court case, the archdiocese still
must comply with California law by having an archeologist at
the site to examine anything unearthed of historic
If more Native-American artifacts are found, a cultural
heritage commission will be notified and appropriate steps
will be taken, according to archdiocesan attorney John
Cardinal Roger Mahoney had hoped that Native Americans would
worship at the new cathedral.
"The God they worship is the God we worship, and we would
hope that this cathedral will be for all people for all
time," he said.
Preservationists want St. Vibiana's saved
The tribal legal challenge is only the latest in a series of
construction obstacles. There also have been court battles
St. Vibiana is surrounded by abandoned buildings and borders
Skid Row, Mahoney originally proposed tearing down the
building and starting from scratch.
But the Los Angeles Conservancy protested, arguing that St.
Vibiana's is one of the few remaining buildings from
19th-century Los Angeles. Mahoney then decided to put St.
Vabiana's up for sale and build on another site. The city has
removed the church from its list of historic landmarks.
Meanwhile, projected construction costs have skyrocketed. The
original $50 million project may cost $163 million. And that
has sparked even more protests, because critics argue that
the money would be better spent helping the poor.
Correspondent Jennifer Auther contributed to this report.