Judge Rules Cathedral Project Can Proceed

A judge ruled Friday that construction of the planned Roman Catholic cathedral complex in downtown Los Angeles can go forward, dealing a blow to an American Indian chief who said the site is an ancient burial ground.

"We're just delighted," said attorney John McNicholas, who represents the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert H. O'Brien ends the lawsuit filed in December by Chief Vera Rocha of the Shoshone Gabrielino Nation. Rocha could not be reached for comment.

In her suit, Rocha said the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the project at Temple and Hill streets without an appropriate impact study.

Rocha contended that a skull found in 1957 is evidence the site should not be covered by a church complex. The skull, she said, indicates the village of Yangna is beneath land that is now a parking lot.

But McNicholas said the archdiocese hired an archeologist and spent money to prove there were no remains at the site.

Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral will replace quake-damaged St. Vibiana's Cathedral as the Los Angeles Archdiocese headquarters. It will be designed by Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo and is scheduled to be dedicated in 2000.

The ruling "means we can proceed on schedule," said the Rev. Gregory Coiro, spokesman for the archdiocese.

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