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As Cardinal Roger Mahony steps down, what is his legacy?

February 24, 2011 |  9:02 am

Talk back LAOnce a shining star of the Catholic Church in the U.S., Cardinal Roger Mahony had once been considered a long-shot possibility to succeed Pope John Paul II.

But in the decade that passed between when Mahony's name was mentioned and the death of the pope, a lot changed, reports The Times' Mitchell Landsberg.

As Mahony prepares to retire in the coming week as head of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Landsberg writes that he will leave a legacy that church historians will puzzle over for years.

His reputation suffered from his handling of the sexual-abuse scandal that shattered the lives and trusts of many Catholics and led to the largest civil settlement by any archdiocese, a staggering $660 million. Despite that, he remained a deeply respected and beloved figure to many, Landsberg reports. Mahony continued to be a fierce champion for social justice and Latino immigrants and was able to keep the archdiocese from financial collapse despite the massive settlement.

How would you describe Mahony's legacy? Tell us your thoughts below.