Pastoral Letters & Statements

During his quarter century as Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote a number of pastoral letters and statements addressing a wide range of topics and issues facing the people of God.

In these letters, the Cardinal has guided the local church with direction, reflection and practical approaches to issues ranging from immigration and bioethics, from the roles of the laity to the celebration of Sunday Eucharist in the 21st century church.

•  A Fresh Encounter with Jesus Christ: Directions in Evangelization – A Pastoral Letter
In his last pastoral letter as Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahony addresses the gift and task of evangelization in the local church.  Issued on Pentecost Sunday, this pastoral responds to the 2003 Los Angeles Archdiocesan synod’s “pastoral priority,” calling for the establishment of “a specific plan for the ‘new evangelization’ of all Catholics (laity, clergy, and religious) … on the level of the Archdiocese and implemented in each parish.” In issuing the pastoral Cardinal Mahony “seeks to re-energize the ministry of evangelization by emphasizing meaningful, personal encounters with Jesus Christ,”.  May 14, 2008
Read Pastoral Letter in English (PDF)  |  Leer Carta Pastoral en español (PDF)

•  Serving Shoulder to Shoulder: Parish Life Directors in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
In his final pastoral statement as the archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahony draws from his last three pastoral documents taking a new direction in collaborative ministry in the archdiocese with the introduction of the parish life director. In addition, the roles of priest minister and priest moderator are explained, as is the process by which parish life directors are selected, trained and assigned.  November 1, 2006.

•  As One Who Serves: A Pastoral Statement on Parish Leadership
The cardinal declares his support for “new modes of parish leadership and a more participatory exercise of ministry in which lay, Religious and ordained together seek to build up the Body of Christ.”  September 4, 2005. Read Pastoral Statement.

•  Statement on the Implementation of Redemptionis Sacramentum

Issued on the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels, September 4, 2004.

•  Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate
Pastoral Statement by Cardinal Mahony regarding the 40th anniversary of the 1965 promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II Declaration on teh Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. February 2004.

•  Gathered and Sent
September 12, 2003. Written at the conclusion of the archdiocesan Synod, this document presented the resulting pastoral initiatives and the priorities and strategies for implementation which will guide the church during the early decades of the 21st century. September 12, 2003

•  I will Appoint Over You Shepherds After My Own Heart
A Pastoral Statement by Cardinal Mahony, issued February 21, 2002

•  As I Have Done For You: A Pastoral Letter on Ministry
This letter — written in collaboration with the priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — presented the need for continued development of lay ministries to work collaboratively with ordained ministers in leading the church forward in the 21st century. The letter clarified the differences between lay ecclesial ministry and ordained ministry, identifying baptism as the common call to both and challenged the local church to cultivate an inclusive and collaborative approach to ministry. At the conclusion of the letter, the cardinal convoked an archdiocesan Synod to begin building the local church through collaboration. April 20, 2000.

•  Gather Faithfully Together: A Guide for Sunday Mass
 Focused on celebrating the Sunday liturgy in the year 2000, this letter presented a vision and practical application for renewing all the aspects of the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy, with the goal of vibrant parish communities and a deeper experience of Eucharist in the third millennium.
•  Children of the Promise
Issued on the tenth anniversary of his tenure as archbishop of Los Angeles, this letter looks back on the growth that had taken place during the decade and also ahead to the beginning of the third millennium. The Cardinal invited and challenged the local church to continued growth in parish life, vocations and evangelization, to culminate in a major celebration on Pentecost, 2000.  September 29, 1995.
•  Filmmakers, Film Viewers: Their Challenges and Opportunities
Their Challenges and Opportunities Cardinal Mahony addressed both filmmakers and the viewing public in this letter, which challenged both to recognize the ability of visual story telling to either elevate or degrade the human person and the power films can have in influencing and forming attitudes and values.  September 15, 1992.
•  Racism and Discrimination 
In response to local racially-fueled riots, this letter acknowledged the lingering fact of racism in society and challenged the local church to work to eliminate discriminatory practices and attitudes and to renew and rebuild the city with justice, equality and peace. June 7, 1992.
•  Sharing Our Heritage in the Marketplace: A Pastoral Reflection on the 100th Anniversary of “Rerum Novarum,”
 In this letter, Cardinal Mahony guided the local church in applying Catholic social teaching to life in the marketplace, with emphasis on the dignity of work and workers, the option for the poor, respect for the earth, and the responsibility of all Catholics to work for justice and peace. November 28, 1991.
•  We Are a Family of People Called Home by God
 In a society where the term “family” had changed and where pressures and stresses have eroded family life, this letter addressed the need for Catholics to reflect and emphasize their faith and values within their families, and the role of the church in supporting them in strengthening family life. September 4, 1991.
•  In Praise of God’s Mercy: the Sacrament of Penance
Recognizing that the practice of confession had diminished considerably, this letter reminded Catholics of the importance, value and benefit of this sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation.  February 28, 1990.
•  The Compassion of Jesus
Written in response to a proposed state initiative that would allow physicians to assist in euthanasia for a terminally ill patient, Cardinal Mahony highlighted the church’s moral teaching that requires Catholics to protect and respect all human life, and indicated that such an initiative could never be justified in the eyes of the church. April 3, 1988.
•  The Day on Which We Gather: Guidelines for Sunday Eucharist
 In this first letter addressing the center of Catholic life in the Word and Eucharist, Cardinal Mahony reminded the faithful of the primacy of Sunday – the Lord’s Day – and the prayer, renewal and recreation that is essential to keeping the day holy, with special emphasis on active participation in the Sunday Mass.  March 31, 1988.
•   “Just As the Women Said”: The Role of Women in the Church
 In this letter, Cardinal Mahony addressed the issues and concerns women face in the church in the form of discrimination and oppression. The letter called for greater sensitivity to women, and both recognition of women’s gifts and talents and a greater integration of those gifts into the life of the church.  August 15, 1987.
•  On the Role of the Laity in the Life of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
At the end of the Archdiocesan Convocation marking the 50th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a Pastoral Plan was developed for the future of the local church. This letter underscored the importance of all the baptized to re-dedicate themselves to building up the church with the implementation of the Pastoral Plan.  December 3, 1986.
•  School Based Health Clinics
Written at the time that the local public school system proposed free health clinics on campuses for students that would distribute birth control to minors without parental consent, this letter questioned the moral implications of such clinics and reinforced the role of parents to influence and guide their children.  October 28, 1986.
•  Our Catholic Schools: Confirming the Community in Faith
In this letter, the Cardinal affirms the value of Catholic schools and the commitment of the archdiocese to maintain the Catholic school system.   March 30, 1986.
•  Priestly Ministers
Written for the priests of the archdiocese, this letter focuses on their spirituality and the unique set of challenges they face in maintaining their spiritual life in the midst of the demands of parish life. February 7, 1986.
•  A New Partnership
Cardinal Mahony’s first pastoral letter addressed immigration and the church’s response in welcoming, embracing and recognizing the dignity of immigrants in our midst, along with the gifts and diversity they bring to the universal church.  January 3, 1986.