I pretty much grew up in Los Angeles (spent 6 of my first 18 years living there), came into the church there at the hands of a wonderful Jesuit (thank you Fr. Randy Roche), met and married my cradle Catholic husband there, and gave birth to 5 of our 6 children there. You know the Randy Newman song?
I love L.A. I truly do. I just can't live there any more.
There was about a 3 year period (1984-1987) when my husband and I, and our children, basically stopped going to Mass on a regular basis. We certainly weren't following the church's teachings on some pretty important stuff, and part of it was that we could go to 6 different Roman rite Catholic parishes within a 10 mile radius (and one Eastern rite, too, though we never went there) and hear at least 20 different opinions on what teachings were necessary for salvation and which were prudential judgement. The local Spanish language parish was run as a mission church by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Mission San Fernando was also nearby, and there was a huge mega-parish (7 English language masses per weekend - 2 vigil and 5 sunday) associated with the diocesan High School.
Eventually we came back, and 3 of our children ended up making their First Communion at the same time (one on time, the other two being caught up). And we tried to be more than just pew warmers. But there was not any challenge to really live out our faith in the hard ways. Even being involved with Marriage Encounter and music ministry there was a sense that some topics (the 'hard teachings') were the elephant in the living room. Being part of music actually made it worse, I think. The power of catchy tunes combined with theologically unsound lyrics is a powerful way to subtly attack basic theological truths.
It wasn't really until we left California for Oregon, and later left Oregon for New England, that we began to shed the scales from out eyes.
I really pray for the bishops of southern california. they really need out prayers. Like Karen Hall, I didn't become Catholic to become a Protestant.