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L.A. Catholics Get New Leadership

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After 25 years as the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony has handed over the reigns to Archbishop Jose Gomez, the first Latino to hold the position. The transition ceremony took place yesterday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown, reports the Daily News, and was attended by over 4,000 people. During the service, Mahony handed over the golden staff known as the crozier, which "symbolizes the archbishop's leadership over more than 5 million Catholics," according to the Daily News.

Mahony also invited Gomez to take over his seat in the large wooden chair known as the cathedra, and Mahony's self-designed coat of arms were taken down from above the cathedra and replaced by Gomez'.

Gomez was born in Mexico, and prior to taking over his new position, served as the Archbishop of San Antonio.

Despite the festive atmosphere, the proceedings were somewhat tainted by the sex abuse scandal in the not-so-distant past, that plagued Mahony's time as Archbishop. The Daily News reports that:

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Gomez also comes to Los Angeles as the Archdiocese tries to put the clergy sex abuse scandal in the past. Many said while the scandal casts a shadow over Mahony's legacy, the Cardinal's leadership in building the Massive Cathedral as well as his work in helping immigrants should not be forgotten. In 2007, Mahony apologized to more than 500 alleged victims and agreed to a $660 million settlement.

Some churchgoers were also reportedly hopeful that Gomez would bring a new voice to the immigration debate.