Cardinal Mahony is the first native Angeleno to serve as Los Angeles Archbishop, having been born February 27, 1936, in Hollywood. The son of Victor and Loretta (née Baron) Mahony. He has twin brother and an older brother. As a child he was raised in the San Fernando Valley. He attended St. Charles Borromeo school in North Hollywood and at age 14, he entered Los Angeles College, the junior seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Cardinal Mahony was ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 1962, by the Bishop Aloysius Joseph Willinger, Bishop of Monterrey-Fresno. He graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1964 with a master's degree in social work. He was named monsignor in February 1967. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Tamascani and Auxiliary Bishop of Fresno January 7, 1975. That same year, Cardinal Mahony was appointed the first chair of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown.
On February 15, 1980, Cardinal Mahony was appointed Bishop of Stockton by Pope John Paul II, as announced by the nuncio, Jean Jadot.
On July 16, 1985, Cardinal Mahony was appointed Archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the fourth Archbishop of Los Angeles on September 5, 1985. Pope John Paul II elevated him a cardinal on June 28, 1991, making him the third Archbishop of Los Angeles to be created a Cardinal.
In 1986, to better minister to the five million Catholics in the Archdiocese, Cardinal Mahony created the five Pastoral Regions (Our Lady of the Angels, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, San Fernando, San Gabriel). In 1995, he announced plans to build the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to replace the earthquake-damaged former St. Vibiana's Cathedral. On September 2002 he dedicated the Cathedral.
Cardinal Mahony serves on a number of committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including those on Liturgy, Pro-Life Activities, and Migration & Refugees. He was a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1984-1989) and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (1986-1991); he is presently on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1989-present), the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (2000-present), and the Congregation for Eastern Churches (2009-present).
As a member of the College of Cardinals, on April 18-19, 2005, Cardinal Mahony participated in the Papal Conclave that was convened following the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005, that resulted in the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
On February 27, 2011, Cardinal Mahony reached his mandatory retirement age and was succeeded as Archbishop of Los Angeles by Archbishop José H. Gomez.
resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Mahony traveled to Rome, where he
was one of 115 cardinal-electors who participated in the Papal Conclave of
March 13, 2013 that elected Pope Francis.