Aug 20, 2005

A Tale of Two Cathedrals


Los Angeles


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Roger Mahony, for building such a butt ugly building! You and your Archdiocese are an embarrassment to the Church.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Saint Johns Army said...

That is one of the best comparisions using pictures I have ever seen. Absolutly unbelievable. SO sad.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Venerable Aussie said...

What a crock! I've got 2 things to say to +Roger:

1. Mother Angelica
2. Seminarians

Couldn't stop the former; can't attract the latter...

And that black box with the cross on it tacked on to the LA cube? Why, I bet it's the "Spirit of V2 Escape Pod" for the good Cardinal's use when the new generation storm in to take back their hijacked Catholic Faith.

I'm looking forward (not) to seeing this monstrosity in person in October. Won't be very in"spire"ing.

4:20 PM  
Blogger The Dover Beachcomber said...

The architects and builders of the Middle Ages gave us surpassingly beautiful churches like Cologne's cathedral, places that still take your breath away five or ten centuries later. Today's designers, though wielding materials and technology the medievals hardly dreamed of, give us banal, smallminded trash like LA's box-pile.

Why the difference? I'd venture that the medievals were really building for the glory of God, whereas our contemporaries are building for something else entirely.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

The thing that makes me so sad about the LA monstrosity is that we will be stuck with it long after Mahony and others like him are are gone due to its enormous expense. I don't much agree with most of LA Catholic Worker's activities, but picketing the building of this "Cathedral" was right on. I just wish they'd been able to do more than just stir up a little media coverage. Ugh.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And people call the Middle Ages unenlightened! This would look like a community college except for the tower at the right, which tags it as a correctional facility. How many millions donated by the faithful have gone to build ugly structures like LA's and to pay for episcopal "mishandling" (trying to be kind) of predatory homosexual clergy? Bring back the Middle Ages.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Fr. Jay Scott Newman said...

The Rog-Mahal is not a cathedral; it's the box a cathedral should come in. It's a pure sadness.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:36 AM

You said, "How many millions donated by the faithful have gone to build ugly structures like LA's [cathedral] ..."

Point of clarification. The bulk of the money donated to Mahony's cathedral (I cannot bring myself to call it "Our Lady's") came from the UNFAITHFUL, not the FAITHFUL. Hence,the result. By UNFAITHFUL I mean pro-abortion politicians, left leaning Hollywood types, etc.

I am sure there were some that might be considered faithful, but they were obviously sold a bill of goods by His Eminent One and being generous souls, they forked over the cash.

One final point. As far as anyone can tell, this horrible project is NOT paid for. Mahony has borrowed 10's of millions of dollar to build this monument to himself.

We must pray for the poor archbishop who will follow in the wake of Cardinal Mahony's long reign of error in L.A.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Xochilt said...

Mahony, sooner or later, will meet his maker and will have to answer, like all of us, for his sins.

His remains will be buried underneath the monstrous structure he conceived and brought to "life."

His "cathedral," the Cardinal himself claims, will last 5 centuries.

I will have to fight the temptation to rejoice over the fact that Roger M. Mahony will be the laughingstock of millions for at least a half of a millenium.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

A picture is worth a thousand tears.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous MVH said...

If it weren't for the cross, I'd say that it's a pretty nice wherehouse [sic?].

Well, now. Let's not be too "catty." If this building is a physical manifestaion of the saying: "It's not what's on the outside that matters, but what is inside that's important." . . . . . . on second thought . . . . . .

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say the least William, Los Angeles still needs a cathedral. And the sooner we get one the better for all the faithful.

10:57 PM  
Blogger skeetor said...

liberalism in all its finest, what is old is bad (ie, liturgy, hymns, cathedrals) what is new is always best.

11:37 AM  
Blogger John Hearn said...

(Sung to the tune of "Winchester Cathedral)

Mahony Cathedral,
Your bringing me down,
You could have been something,
In LA's downtown!

You sit on your hill now,
Squint ugly and crass,
Looks like the old Cardinal,
Got holda some grass.

I stood and I watched as they poured your baskety walls.
Your dikey Madonna would look bad in most malls!

Mahony Cathedral,
Your bringing me down,
You could have been something,
In LA's downtown!

A rogey do do - arogey do do - a rogey da da da do do!

1:18 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

So...Cologne has a monument to patriarchy (notice the phallic spires) and rigidity (don't tell me they bend one bit in the wind)and medievalism (all those confusing stained glass windows) and purposeless ornamentation....

And...LA has a wunnderful, horizontally sharing, Marty Haugen-friendly, gay 'n lesbian friendship center. Sure, it's made of cinderblock concrete, but that's meant ironically, don't you see, you critics of misunderstood architectural genius?

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Hearn-

Great lyrics!

2:45 PM  
Anonymous lidz said...

Well, Jenn, LA is earthquake country, you know. It may NOT last as long as Mahoney hopes.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Calculon said...

As other American dioceses have demonstrated, there is no rule against selling this architectural monstrosity -- then the money can be used to build a real cathedral.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who would buy it?

6:27 AM  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

The plaza in front of the cathedral can always be used for a remake of 'The Planet of the Apes'.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous leelu said...

It's a warehouse.


2:50 PM  
Anonymous leelu said...


There a phallus on the right side of the picture.

...a little one.

2:52 PM  
Blogger quicksilver said...

Calling a house of the lord a "monstrosity" and saying how their "hijacking" the Catholic faith is a bit harsh. To me, any building dedicated to the glory of God, be it a brick complex or a log cabin, is beautiful to me.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Brown Line said...

The "Rog Mahal" - priceless!

Actually, it would be perfect as the setting for one of those urban jungle-gym videos that are so popular now. Considering alternate uses (assuming you want to sell the thing), consider a water park. Or shopping mall.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The really ironic thing is that the Cologne cathedral is empty on Sundays and the LA heap is full.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a CHURCH? I thought it was a hospital!

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Victor Eremita said...

I can't say the second building looks all that great to me either--but to be perfectly honest, it's simply no longer financially or practically feasible to build stone cathedrals covered with sculpture like Notre Dame of Paris or Notre Dame of Amiens. Architecture like this required a whole host of people with skills that simply don't exist anymore, willing to work hours no one would work for pay they simply wouldn't accept, in our day at least. (And, frankly, I would hope that the church would be the last organization to want the society that produced this cheap labor back) But unfortunately, people still try to make their church buildings look like the Gothic church--and I'm afraid the modern 'megachurch architecture' attempts at Gothic lookalike with modern materials, detailing, and budget are some of the most hideously profane pieces of work I've ever seen; they go far beyond merely mediocre architecture to ghoulish mockery.

Perhaps the only building being built today which comes close to the old cathedrals in craftsmanship and splendor is Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, still under construction many years after his death--but I suspect this building may always be more a testimony to the incredible personal faith of it's architect than an environment which promotes the faith of a worshiping community within it. It's more landmark than church--not to Gaudi himself, perhaps--but to the surrounding city.

On the other hand, there are and have been some good church buildings built in the 'modern' idiom on a modern budget in America which do "look like churches"--that is, vaguely Gothic--albeit not many. E. Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel is the only one I can think of.

But we should remember that the church did not begin (nor was it even at its healthiest) with the Gothic or Romanesque style--it began in humble little houses, catecombs, etc. And among the most energetic young churches of our day and our country meet in buildings which look frankly nothing like churches--no cross or anything--in storefronts, old big-box retail buildings, even barns and, yes, people's houses! The people who attend these churches have nothing to speak for their beliefs but their own deeds and words--and while I as an architecture student would hope that we, as architects, can someday do better for the American church than we overwhelmingly do--I think it is good to remember that religion for all its beautiful state sponsored glory is dying in Europe, while here in America some 68 percent of our population regularly attends a church of some kind--even though it may not be much to look at.

Much of the reason for this is, simply, that people in our country do not have to have an obscene budget or state sponsorship to start a church--that our country is a good environment for small upstart churches. This is the country of the non-standard church, the circuit rider, the revival tent (these last being found among both Protestant and Catholic groups, I might add)--this is why we are--have become over the roughly 240 years of our history--the most religious country in the world. Aesthetics can follow after faith (I hope they do--I suspect that if more architects were faithful, there would be better buildings for the faithful), but they aren't the most important thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Maybe the fact that Christianity produced Bach and Handel and a visually rich culture could reconcile your average agnostic/atheistic art critic to the existence of Christianity in a way that the big tacky megachurch can't--I can't tell you how many times I've read articles by agnostics atheists and the trivially mystical folk of the art world disparaging Christian art of today for being tacky and cheap and by extension sneering from afar that this indicates some underlying crisis of faith as though good taste were a guarantor of spiritual health--but as long as the faith remains strong in the cheaply built church, the sneers of the irreligious aesthetes are hardly of concern.

Yes, it would be nice to have better looking modern churches. But it's better to have more faithful modern congregations. And, I'm sorry, but there's just no way to revive the true Gothic style in our age--it would be perverse to try.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Clayton said...

The real problem with the LA Cathedral is the ecclesiology that lies behind it - this was, by the Cardinal's own admission, his personal project...

The cardinal has had final say on every decision regarding the cathedral, down to the wattage of the lightbulbs in the freight elevator. His taste and influence are as much a foundation of this building as the earthquake-savvy base isolators that hold it up.

5:46 PM  
Blogger I dare you to deny me communion because I kneel said...

If I ever become the Archbishop of LA, well, we'll be having a special remodeling project

2:00 AM  
Blogger Leticia said...

Dare; does your remodeling require a wrecking ball?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Leticia,

Thank you for your "wrecking ball" comment of Oct. 20, 2009! I'm answering you on Oct. 23.

And could we need a theological wrecking ball for, as Clayton put it, the ecclesiology behind the Mahal's design?

8:48 PM  

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