Archbishop Roger Mahony, in a dramatic finale to an 18-month-long controversy, announced today that he has decided against selling Cathedral High School in Chinatown that has educated generations of immigrants’ sons.
In announcing his decision, Mahony reversed the position of his predecessor, Cardinal Timothy Manning, who had quietly agreed to sell the largely Latino boys preparatory school to a Hong Kong developer for $10 million to $12 million. He said Manning “fully concurred” in his decision.
Mahony, who was installed as archbishop in September, said one of the major reasons for the reversal was that new demographic studies have shown a projected increase of high school-aged students in the inner city where the school is located. The decision to keep Cathedral is part of a long-range approach to education Mahony said he hopes to develop to meet “new challenges” posed by immigrant children in Los Angeles.
The decision was greeted with jubilation by alumni and students who had inaugurated a protest campaign to save the school when news of the sale became public last year. As news of the announcement became known this morning, parents and alumni began to gather at the school to celebrate.
“Obviously we’re elated,” said Henry Alfaro, a Cathedral High School graduate and spokesman for an alumni committee called Friends of Cathedral that had led the protests.
“We’ve fought for this for a long, long time. . . . The archdiocese had sold this school without notifying the community, without asking their wishes. Now we will be working together with the archdiocese to make the school better.”
Mahony explained that the decision to unilaterally withdraw from the sale was made possible by the actions of Los Angeles city officials, who have imposed strict limitations upon the buyer’s ability to develop the property during the past year.
“Although the archdiocese is in an escrow to sell the property,” he said, “the escrow is contingent upon the removal of its designation as a Cultural Heritage Monument, obtaining demolition and building permits, zone changes and other conditions. . . .
“It therefore appears improbable that the buyers will be able to close the escrow because of the opposition of the community and city government.”
J. J. Brandlin, an archdiocesan attorney, said at a press conference held at the school that the archdiocese had offered to reimburse the buyer for actual costs he had incurred in the sale. He said the buyer had not agreed to those terms.