Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles

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Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Archidioecesis Angelorum in California
Arquidiócesis de Los Ángeles
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.svg
Country United States of America
Territory Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties
Ecclesiastical province Los Angeles
Metropolitan Los Angeles, California
Area 14,019 km2 (5,413 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
4,263,990 (36.1%)
Parishes 287
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 1 June 1922
(As Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego)
11 July 1936
(As Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
Cathedral Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
Patron saint Saint Vibiana, Saint Patrick, Saint Rita, Saint Emidius[1]
Secular priests 590
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop José Gómez
Auxiliary Bishops
Emeritus Bishops
File:Archdiocese of Los Angeles map 1.png

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Latin: Archidioecesis Angelorum in California, Spanish: Arquidiócesis de Los Ángeles) is an archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. state of California. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the archdiocese comprises the California counties of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura. The diocesan cathedral is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, and its present archbishop is José Horacio Gómez. With approximately five million professing members, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is numerically the single largest diocese in the United States.

The Archbishop of Los Angeles also serves as metropolitan bishop of the suffragan dioceses within the Ecclesiastical Province of Los Angeles, which includes the Dioceses of Fresno, Monterey, Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

Following the establishment of the Spanish missions in California, the Holy See established the Diocese of the Two Californias in 1840, when the Los Angeles region was still part of Mexico. In 1848, present-day California was ceded to the United States, and the U.S. portion of the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Monterey. The diocese was renamed the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles in 1859, and the episcopal see was moved to Los Angeles upon the completion of the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana in 1876. Los Angeles split from Monterey to become the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego in 1922. The diocese was split again in 1936 to create the Diocese of San Diego, and the Los Angeles see was elevated to an archdiocese. The archdiocese's present territory was established in 1976, when Orange County was split off to establish the Diocese of Orange.


The Catholic Church presence in present-day southern California dates to the Spanish establishment of missions in what was then known as the Las Californias province of New Spain. From 1769 to 1823, the Franciscan order led by Junípero Serra and later by Fermín de Francisco Lasuén established twenty-one missions between present-day San Diego and Sonoma, six of which were located in the present-day territory of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In response to the 1781 establishment of the Pueblo de Los Angeles, in 1784 priests from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel set out for the pueblo and established the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia as a sub-mission. The asistencia fell into disrepair after being abandoned several years later, and La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles was built on the site in 1814; the church remained the only Catholic church in Los Angeles for many years.

Las Californias was split into two provinces in 1804, and the area comprising present-day California became part of Alta California. In 1840, the Holy See erected the Diocese of the Two Californias to recognize the growth of the provinces of Alta California and Baja California. The diocese was a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Mexico with its episcopal see located in Monterey, and included all Mexican territory west of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California (the modern U.S. states of California and Nevada, and parts of Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, and the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur).

In 1848 Alta California was ceded to the United States after the Mexican-American War, and the Mexican government objected to an American bishop having jurisdiction over parishes in Mexican Baja California. The Holy See split the diocese into American and Mexican sections, and the American section was renamed the Diocese of Monterey. Another large split occurred in 1853, when much of present-day northern California, as well as present-day Nevada and Utah, formed the Archdiocese of San Francisco; Monterey became a suffragan of the new archdiocese. In 1859 the diocese became known as the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles to recognize the growth of the city of Los Angeles; the see was transferred to Los Angeles and the new Cathedral of Saint Vibiana in 1876.

On June 1, 1922 the diocese split again, this time into the Dioceses of Monterey-Fresno and Los Angeles-San Diego; Bishop John Joseph Cantwell, who had previously been Bishop of Monterey-Los Angeles, became bishop of the Los Angeles-San Diego diocese, which comprised the counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. On July 11, 1936 the diocese was elevated to become the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with John Joseph Cantwell as its first archbishop; concurrently, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties were split to form the suffragan Diocese of San Diego, and the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno was transferred to become a suffragan of the new archdiocese. On March 24, 1976 Orange County was split to form the Diocese of Orange, establishing the archdiocese's present-day territory consisting of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

In addition to the dioceses of Monterey, Orange, and San Diego, the archdiocese's present-day suffragan dioceses are Fresno (split from the Diocese of Monterey in 1967) and San Bernardino (split from the Diocese of San Diego in 1978).

Pastoral regions

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles

In 1986, Archbishop Roger Mahony subdivided the Archdiocese of Los Angeles into five administrative pastoral regions. Each region is geographical, and is headed by an auxiliary bishop who functions as the region's episcopal vicar. The five regions are:

Sex abuse cases

On July 16, 2007, Cardinal Roger Mahony and the archdiocese reached a record-breaking settlement with 508 alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The settlement was worth $660 million, with an average of $1.3 million for each plaintiff. Mahony described the abuse as a "terrible sin and crime", after a series of trials into sex abuse claims since the 1940s were to begin. The agreement settled all outstanding civil lawsuits against the archdiocese and dwarfs the $157 million settlement paid by the Archdiocese of Boston since Massachusetts law places a legal dollar cap on how much money a non-profit group can be required to pay.[5]

In 2014 the diocese agreed to pay $13 million to settle a final group of 17 sex abuse lawsuits, including eleven that involved "a visiting Mexican priest who fled prosecution and remains a fugitive more than 25 years later". The settlement followed a court order forcing the Archdiocese to release files which showed that it had shielded accused priests, for example by ordering church officials not to turn over a list of altar boys to police who were investigating.[6]


File:John Joseph Cantwell.jpg
Most Reverend John J. Cantwell, first Archbishop of Los Angeles

The archdiocese is led by the archbishop, who governs from the mother church, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The cathedral was dedicated on September 2, 2002, and replaced the former Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The Archbishop of Los Angeles is the metropolitan of the Province of Los Angeles of the Roman Catholic Church. Its suffragans are the dioceses of Fresno, Monterey in California, Orange in California, San Bernardino, and San Diego. Metropolitan archbishops historically wielded great administrative powers over the suffragan dioceses. Today, such power is only ceremonial and kept as a tradition.

The Most Reverend José H. Gómez is the current Archbishop of Los Angeles, having automatically succeeded his predecessor, Roger Cardinal Mahony who served for 25 years, upon the latter's retirement which took effect on March 1, 2011.[7] Previously, Gómez served as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on April 6, 2010.[8][9][10] He previously served as Archbishop of San Antonio from 2004 to 2010, and as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver from 2001 to 2004.[11] He is an ordained priest of Opus Dei.[12][13]

Archbishop Gómez is assisted by the current Auxiliary Bishops: Edward W. Clark, Oscar A. Solis, and Alexander Salazar, Joseph Brennan, David O'Connell, and Robert Barron. In addition, Joseph Martin Sartoris and Gerald Eugene Wilkerson are retired auxiliary bishops still living and residing within the archdiocese. Gordon Bennett, S.J., Bishop Emeritus of Mandeville, Jamaica, also resides within the archdiocese, as the Peter Faber, S.J. Fellow in Pastoral Theology and Ignatian Spirituality at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.


File:Francisco García Diego y Moreno.jpg
Painting of Francisco García Diego y Moreno at the San Fernando Mission
File:Joseph Sadoc Alemany.JPG
Joseph Sadoc Alemany
File:Thaddeus Amat y Brusi.jpg
Painting of Thaddeus Amat y Brusi at the San Fernando Mission
File:Bishop Francisco Mora.jpg
Francisco Mora y Borrell


Bishop of Two Californias

  1. Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, O.F.M. (1840–1846)

Bishop of Monterey

  1. Joseph Alemany, O.P., (1850–1853)

Bishops of Monterey-Los Angeles

  1. Thaddeus Amat y Brusi, C.M. (1853–1878)
  2. Francisco Mora y Borrell (1878–1896)
  3. George Thomas Montgomery (1896–1902)
  4. Thomas James Conaty (1903–1915)
  5. John Joseph Cantwell (1917–1922)

Bishops of Los Angeles-San Diego

  1. John Joseph Cantwell (1922–1936)

Archbishops of Los Angeles

  1. John Joseph Cantwell (1936–1947)
  2. James Francis Cardinal McIntyre (1948–1970)
  3. Timothy Cardinal Manning (1970–1985)
  4. Roger Cardinal Mahony (1985–2011)
  5. José Horacio Gómez (2011—present)

Auxiliary bishops



Other bishops who once were priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Note: Years in parentheses indicate the time of service as a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, prior to appointment to the episcopacy.


There are 5 colleges and over 50 high schools within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Many churches have affiliated primary schools as well.


2012 Grand Marian Procession through Downtown Los Angeles
File:Delegation from Slovak Consulate General.jpg
Delegation from the Slovakian Consulate General marching in the 2012 Grand Marian Procession

Religious Education Congress

The archdiocese's Office of Religious Education produces the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the largest annual event of its kind in the United States, with an attendance of approximately 38,000.

Annual Marian procession and Mass

The archdiocese has entrusted the annual celebration of the Votive Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Angels to the Queen of Angels Foundation, a lay association of the Catholic Church dedicated to promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the second Saturday of each year since 2011, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has hosted a Votive Mass in honor of Our Lady, Queen of Angels. The Mass follows a Marian procession which originates from the historic Queen of Angels parish, which is part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, and culminates at the cathedral.

Since 2011 the Queen of Angels Foundation has sponsored the annual Marian processions, Votive Masses, and fiestas in commemoration of Los Angeles’ birthday and the feast of Our Lady of the Angels. Archbishop Gomez has been the homilist and principal celebrant of the annual Mass since 2012. Future Marian processions and Masses will coincide with the City of Los Angeles’ official birthday celebrations on the last Saturday of August.

Holy Days of Obligation

As directed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical Province of Los Angeles, the archdiocese annually observes four Holy Days of Obligation. The Roman Catholic Church currently recognizes ten holy days, established in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. However, the USCCB has reduced that number to 6 for Latin Church dioceses in the United States. As of January 1, 1993, no provinces in the United States celebrate the solemnities of Epiphany, Corpus Christi, Saint Joseph, or the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul as holy days of obligation.[14] The Metropolitan Province of Los Angeles, which includes the L.A. Archdiocese, further modified the list and currently celebrates 4 holy days of obligation on the day prescribed by canon law. The solemnity of the Ascension is moved from Thursday of the sixth week of Easter to the seventh Sunday of Easter. The province does not celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God as a holy day.[15] However, per Canon 87 of the current 1983 Code of Canon Law, a diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful in his own territory by the supreme authority of the Church.[16]

Province of Los Angeles

Map of the Ecclesiastical Province of Los Angeles
See: List of the Catholic bishops of the United States

See also


External links

Coordinates: 34°03′39″N 118°17′54″W / 34.06083°N 118.29833°W / 34.06083; -118.29833