L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

Category: Religion

San Juan Capistrano celebrates, but will swallows arrive?

PHOTOS: Swallows' Day at the mission

It’s a century-old tradition that has waned in recent years, the annual migration of cliff swallows — those diminutive birds that live in mud nests along vertical walls — from Argentina to Orange County’s Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Though fewer and fewer seem to return each year, the celebration for their arrival hasn’t diminished.

On Tuesday, residents and schoolchildren alike will celebrate St. Joseph’s Day and the fabled return of the swallows to the mission, an Orange County tradition that goes back generations. People used to say you could set your clock to the birds’ arrival.

PHOTOS: Swallows' Day 2012 at the mission

Mission officials are honoring St. Joseph — spouse of the Virgin Mary — and the swallows’ arrival by ringing the mission’s historic bells and offering live performances by a mariachi band and flamenco dancers.

Tuesday is stoked in tradition for the mission, but much has changed in recent years. As fewer of the birds have returned since they were first welcomed onto the grounds nearly 100 years ago, mission officials have tried different ways to lure them back.

This year the mission is playing swallow mating calls from speakers behind a statue of Father Junipero Serra, the mission’s founder. The recorded mating sounds had some success in 2012, mission officials said. They hope the momentum will carry forward.

Experts blame the swallows’ disappearance on urbanization. Mission restoration projects in recent years have also scared off the avians.

“I think if we keep trying long enough, eventually, some individuals will come by, they’ll see the mission and they will realize it’s a good place to nest, as they did in the past,” said Charles Brown, a swallows expert from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.

But as a recent study shows, the swallows are adjusting to a changing world. A study published Monday in the journal Current Biology shows the birds have developed shorter wingspans, making them take off faster and turn quicker to avoid modern-day hazards like moving vehicles.

ALSO:

Lil Wayne reportedly released from L.A. hospital

Three to stand trial in bondage killing of Marine's wife

St. Patrick's Day crash in Pasadena leaves four with major injuries

— Joseph Serna

Photo: A bird sits atop a cross at Mission San Juan Capistrano during St. Joseph's Day in 2012. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

L.A. archbishop to speak on Pope Francis at Spanish-language Mass

Archibishop

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez will celebrate Spanish-language Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday and will address the election of Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, in his homily, officials said.

Gomez will preside over the 12:30 p.m. Mass, the first Spanish-language Mass at the cathedral since Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope on Wednesday. He chose the papal name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis, 76, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. 

The new pope, the son of Italian immigrants, is the 266th in the church’s history. He succeeds the late John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who abruptly resigned last month.

ALSO:

Matthew Keys 'fine' after indictment on hacking charges

12-year-old who gave pot brownie to kids at school arrested

Gavin Smith investigation 'moving forward vigorously,' official says

-- Carlos Lozano

Photo: Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

Victim of priest molestation urges Pope Francis to defrock Mahony

Photo: Michael Duran, who received nearly $1 million in a sex abuse settlement with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, holds up pictures of himself when he was a child after a news conference on Thursday. Duran wants Pope Francis to defrock Cardinal Roger Mahony over his role in the cover up. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

A man who will receive part of a $10-million settlement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for abuse by a former priest on Thursday called on the new pope to punish church leaders who had covered up molestation of children.

Michael Duran, one of four men who settled with the church over claims that they were abused by former cleric Michael Baker, said there should be consequences for Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who had learned of Baker's abuses in the 1980s but allowed him to remain in ministry.

"I hope the new pope defrocks the cardinal," Duran said at a news conference outside a downtown L.A. courthouse.

FULL COVERAGE: Priest abuse scandal

Baker, a convicted pedophile, has been accused of harming at least 23 boys during his three decades in the priesthood. Mahony has said he was most "troubled" by the case of Baker, whom he allowed to remain in the church after the man personally confessed to the former archbishop in 1986 that he had molested two boys.

Duran will receive nearly $1 million for what he described as repeated "rape" dating from the 1980s. As his wife stood beside him, he said he believed he was one of the two children Baker was speaking of when he confided to Mahony.

"He made the decision not to look for me, to get me the help I needed," he said.

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave

His attorney, John Manly, said law enforcement had failed to hold the cardinal and other church leaders criminally accountable. The settlement announced this week was the first since the January release of 12,000 pages of internal church records that showed the cardinal and his top aides had discussed shielding abusive priests.

The cardinal has apologized for his handling of Baker. A church attorney said this week that the archdiocese has "taken responsibility" for harms caused by the ex-priest.

ALSO:

Argentine community sees Pope Francis as 'point of pride'

AEG move could help L.A.'s bid for NFL team, councilwoman says

Shark dies in Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys backyard pool

-- Victoria Kim

Photo: Michael Duran, who will receive nearly $1 million in a sex abuse settlement with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, holds up pictures of himself when he was a child after a news conference on Thursday. Duran wants Pope Francis to defrock Cardinal Roger Mahony over his role in the cover-up. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

In West Hollywood, Pope Francis' stand on gays is unimpressive

For Giancarlo Urey, a 29-year-old lawyer who spent the day in West Hollywood when Pope Francis was named to the papacy, the new leader's anti-gay stance is not a good sign.

Like his predecessor in the Vatican, Francis is equally committed to conservative, traditional doctrine, people who know him say, a sensibility fostered in part by his theological studies in Germany.

He was a staunch opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, issues that an increasingly secular Argentina has embraced. He once said allowing gay couples to adopt constituted discrimination of the children.

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

"I think it's just another reminder that the Catholic Church doesn't progress with the times," said Urey, who is gay.

Urey, who was raised Baptist and lives downtown, said he doesn't expect the sentiment to change anytime soon.

"I'm not hopeful that as an institution it will turn around," he said. "But I hope individuals will open their eyes. There's always hope."

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave    

Urey, who has Bolivian and Guatemalan roots, said he doesn't think the selection of an Argentine pope is too surprising considering the prevalence of Catholicism in Spanish-speaking countries.

And in many ways, he said, an Argentine pope isn't that much of a change.

"I'm not impressed, I'm not excited," said Urey, who called Argentina "about as European as you can get."

INTERACTIVE: Choosing a new pope

Before he was pope, as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis reportedly described gay marriage as the work of the devil and a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” He has also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.
Continue reading »

Argentine community sees Pope Francis as 'point of pride'

The Argentine community in the Glendale area is celebrating Pope Francis, the first Roman Catholic pope from their home county.

Pope Francis was selected Wednesday to head the church, something that wasn’t lost on the local immigrant community, even those who aren’t part of the church.

Father Dennis Marrell of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Pasadena said Wednesday that about half of the roughly 4,000 families who attend his church are Latino, including more than 500 people who attend a weekly Spanish-language Mass.

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave

“Several of them have already expressed their delight to me that someone who shares their background and has shown such concern for the poor has been chosen. All Catholics feel a special affinity with the pope, but this makes him feel much closer,” Marrell said.

Speaking in Spanish, Rene Vildoza -- owner of the Argentine restaurant El Morfi Grill in downtown Glendale -- said that while he is not a Catholic, it’s “a point of pride for the people to have a South American, especially a Latino, in this position.”

Referring to his family back in Argentina: “They are happy with it. I am happy for the people too."

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

The significance was not lost on Marcelo Sala, owner of 1810 Argentinean Restaurant in Pasadena. Originally from Buenos Aires, Sala, 50, said he wasn’t a devout Catholic, so to him, “personally, it’s not a big deal.”
Continue reading »

L.A. Catholics hope Pope Francis will further address abuse

As L.A.-area Catholics praised the selection of Pope Francis, many said they hoped the new pontiff would further address the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church.

"He's got a lot of things to do right now," said Leo Medina, 65, who sat on a bench in Lynwood's Plaza Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.

Medina said he believes the abuse allegations are the most important issue facing the church.

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

"It's really damaging to the church," he said. "I think a lot of people changed their religion because of this."

"It's not really easy to fix this," he continued. "The damage is already done."

Francis, 76, succeeds Benedict XVI as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Benedict stunned the church when he stepped down last month, becoming the first pontiff to do so in six centuries.

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave

Francis is the first pontiff from the Americas and the first non-European pope selected in more than a millennium.

The Catholic Church has been roiled in recent years by allegations of clergy abuse in the United States, Ireland and England dating back decades. In Los Angeles, recently released court files offered evidence that some church officials made a concerted effort to shield abusers from police.

Last month, in a move unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties over Mahony's mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago.

INTERACTIVE: Choosing a new pope

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who worked with Mahony, also resigned his post as a regional bishop in Santa Barbara.

Continue reading »

Impact of Pope Francis 'unimaginable,' Cardinal Mahony says

Cardinal Roger Mahony said in a televised interview the impact new Pope Francis will have on the world is "unimaginable."

Despite being rebuked recently by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez for his handling of sexual abuse cases, Mahony participated in the conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the 266th Roman Catholic pope.

“It’s unimaginable, the impact that this is going to have across the world, in particular, of course, obviously, Latin America," Mahony told KCBS-TV Channel 2 in Rome shortly after Francis greeted cheering crowds in St. Peter’s Square.

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave

"It’s the first time we’ve ever had a Southern Hemisphere pope," he continued. "It’s the first time we’ve ever had a Latin American pope. It’s just extraordinary, extraordinary."

Following the release of documents showing Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry worked to shield child-abusing priests from police, Gomez removed Mahony from all public duties. In the CBS2 interview, the former Los Angeles archbishop defended his actions.

“Much of the criticism comes from ignorance of not knowing what has happened, I mean, the extraordinary efforts we’ve taken,” Mahony said. “We’ve passed every compliance audit with flying colors. And I dare to find somebody who can tell me, ‘What have we not done yet?’ Please let me know, and we’ll do it.”

ALSO:

World leaders react to Pope Francis

What's in a pope's name? Why choose Francis?

Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentine becomes Pope Francis

-- Cindy Chang

New pope: Cardinal Mahony defends record on priest abuse

Cardinal Mahony stripped of public church duties

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, in Rome for the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope, praised the choice but also defended his record on handling priest abuse cases.

Mahony spoke as many Los Angeles Catholics rejoiced at the selection of the first pope from Latin America.

He said he thought it marked a historic change.

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave    

“This is unimaginable," Mahony said in an interview with KCBS. “The impact this is going to have, particularly, of course, in Latin America. It’s the first time we ever had a Southern Hemisphere pope. It’s just extraordinary.”

Records released earlier this year showed that Mahony and other church officials plotted to hide priests who abused children from police in the 1980s. Some critics had urged Mahony not to go to Rome to help select a pope.

Mahony defended his record in the KCBS interview. “Much of the criticism comes from ignorance of not knowing what has happened, and the extraordinary efforts we have taken. We have passed every compliance audit with flying colors," he told the station.

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

The selection of Bergoglio marked a moment of jubilation at an otherwise precarious time for America’s largest archdiocese.

About 70% of the Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is Latino, and it’s not uncommon in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods to see signs proclaiming “Este hogar es catolico” or “This home is Catholic.”

“I never thought this would happen,” said Eduardo Ahamad, 56, who runs the Rincon Argentino grocery store in Glendale. He is of Mexican and Argentine descent and had expected the new pope to come from where so many others had: Italy.

INTERACTIVE: Choosing a new pope

Continue reading »

New pope: Cardinal Mahony 'absolutely ecstatic' over Bergoglio

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony cheered the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope.

“This is unimaginable," Mahony told KCBS-TV Channel 2 anchor Sylvia Lopez in an interview in Rome. “The impact this is going to have have. Particularly, of course, in Latin America. It’s the first time we ever had a Southern Hemisphere pope. It’s just extraordinary.”

He added: “I am ecstatic. Absolutely ecstatic. In fact, I really have a hard time sitting down.”

Across Southern California on Wednesday, many Catholics rejoiced that the background of the church’s new leader resembled theirs more closely than those of his European predecessors.

The selection of Bergoglio marked a moment of jubilation at an otherwise precarious time for America’s largest archdiocese, which has been roiled by new allegations that church leaders plotted to hide child abuse by priests from police.

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

About 70% of the Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is Latino, and it’s not uncommon in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods to see signs proclaiming “Este hogar es catolico” or “This home is Catholic.”

“I never thought this would happen,” said Eduardo Ahamad, 56, who runs the Rincon Argentino grocery store in Glendale. He is of Mexican and Argentinian descent and had expected the new pope to come from where so many others had: Italy.

“I was ready to run outside with my flag,” he said. “I can only imagine that Argentinians are celebrating.”

HISTORIC FRONT PAGES: News of a new pope

At a Spanish-language Mass at St. Emydius in Lynwood, parishioners applauded when the new pope emerged. But the clapping got much louder when they learned their new spiritual leader hailed from Argentina.

“It’s possible that he will understand other Latinos better,” Maria Ramirez, 65, said afterward in Spanish. “As the pope, he is the pope to the whole world, but I’m very pleased that he’s from Latin America.”

Another churchgoer, Teresa Gonzalez, 62, said she hoped the new pope would mark a new chapter for the church after “the abuse that’s happened.”

“Much of the faith of Catholic people is going down,” Gonzalez said.

Continue reading »

New pope: Francis opens new era for Latin American Catholics

Midday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Catholic experts said the selection of Francis was a  brilliant choice that recognized the locus of the global church has shifted from Europe to the Southern Hemisphere.

The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to lead the Roman Catholic Church ushered in an era of firsts.

He is the first pope from the Americas. And he is the first pope who shares the mother tongue of Latin Americans — Pope John Paul II spoke fluent Spanish, but with the accent of someone who was not a native speaker, and Pope Benedict XVI spoke it more haltingly. 

FULL COVERAGE: Election of a pope

 

Two-thirds of Catholics live in the south and their concerns are markedly different than those elsewhere, said Father Thomas Rausch of Loyola Marymount University.

“It’s very significant that they’ve elected a Latin American, someone outside Europe, who can represent the part of the church that is so different from the West,” Rausch said. “There will certainly be great rejoicing in Latin America. Everyone is hoping he has the vision to move the church in a new direction.”

While Catholics in the United States might focus on gay rights, contraception and women priests, Latin Americans are concerned about such issues as poverty,  global capitalism, the loss of faith and the rise of Pentecostalism, Rausch said. He added that it was significant the new pope is not simply a Vatican bureaucrat or scholar but a man who has served in Buenos Aires and  in places like Cordoba, one of the poorest cities in Argentina. He also participated in episcopal conferences held by Latin American bishops, who asserted that the church should focus on the poor, said Father Allan Figueroa Deck, a Latin American specialist at Loyola Marymount University.

Rausch added that the pope’s commitment to the needy was also signaled by his choice of the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi – known as  “the Poverello,” or “little poor man.”

Deck added that  Pope Francis would serve as a bridge between Europe and Latin America, just as his native country of Argentina has.

“It’s a very important development and it’s been a long time coming,” Deck said. “The seeds of Christianity that was planted 500 years ago in the Americas are finally manifesting themselves in the leadership of the church at the highest level.”

ALSO:

Still no verdict in Bell corruption trial; jurors on Day 13

Rapist held in mental hospital must be tried or freed, court says

Drunk driver killed brother, faces manslaughter charges, D.A. says

-- Teresa Watanabe

Photo: Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez celebrates Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels after the selection of an Argentine cardinal to become the Roman Catholic Church's pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is now Pope Francis. Credit: Kevork Djanszian / Getty Images

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: