Cardinal Roger Mahony
Live Web cast May 25, 2000, 1 p.m. ET

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Cardinal Roger Mahony

A native of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony runs the largest Archdiocese in the country, serving almost four million Catholics in Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, and Los Angeles County. An active and outspoken leader, he has to be considered one of the most influential Cardinals in the United States.

Roger Mahony was ordained a priest in 1962 and earned a master's degree in social work in 1964 from the Catholic University of America. His career reflects a passionate commitment to serving the spiritual and social needs of his flock, particularly the less fortunate. He is not afraid to ruffle feathers, on the left or the right, in pursuit of his goals. In times of crisis, popes and politicians have turned to him for help.

Cardinal Mahony advises Pope John Paul II on many issues, serving on the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Financial Problems of the Holy See, the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

When the Pope came to Los Angeles in 1987, Archbishop Mahony served as host. He then traveled with the Pontiff on his visit to Cuba in 1998. When the Holy Father convened a Synod of American Bishops in 1997, he appointed Cardinal Mahony one of three president-delegates. Mahony gave the Assembly's farewell address to the Holy Father at its conclusion.

Fluent in Spanish, Father Mahony began his priestly career ministering to Hispanics and migrant farm workers. In 1975, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Bishop Mahony as the first chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The board helped settle many of the labor disputes between the United Farm Workers Union and various growers in the state.

Cardinal Mahony's commitment to public service has not waned since then. He has served as a member of the Los Angeles 2000 Committee; the Federal Commission on Agricultural Workers; and the Blue Ribbon Committee for Affordable Housing Los Angeles. Following the L.A. riots after the acquittal of the police officers accused of beating Rodney King in 1992, Cardinal Mahoney was appointed to the Rebuild L.A. (RLA) commission.

Since becoming a bishop in 1975, Mahony has been even more active within the Church, serving on numerous committees and commissions of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC). He has served on the NCCB Committee on Farm Labor, and the NCCB Committee on Migration and Refugees. Cardinal Mahony has chaired the NCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, which addresses such issues as abortion, physician assisted suicide, and capital punishment.

The Cardinal is not afraid to educate the community, speaking out on issues of the day in his pastoral letters. In 1992 he issued Film Makers and Film Viewers: Their Challenges and Opportunities, which dealt with sex and violence in film. In a 1998 letter, Creating a Culture of Life, he wrote, "Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members -- the last, the least, the littlest."

After the Columbine High School shooting, Cardinal Mahony released a statement, Our Hearts Cry: Not Again! Commenting on the violence, he wrote, "the violence that haunts our nation reflects the breakdown of family and community life, the absence of spiritual roots, the loss of respect for life, the pervasiveness of violent images from the media, and the easy accessibility of guns and other weapons."

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