Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Pedophilia Scandal in LA

This week, the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Catholic Church agreed to a settlement by which victims of sexual abuse by priests in the archdiocese would receive a total of 660 million dollars to be divided among them (and their attorneys). The agreement was announced on the day before a trial was to begin, in which Archbishop Roger Mahony would have been called as a witness under oath. The central figure in this scandal was Cardinal Mahony, who, for several years, had stonewalled the victims, their attorneys and the LA District Attorney's Office, who had been trying to obtain Church records relating to accused priests. Much like the recent case in the Archdiocese of Boston, in which Cardinal Bernard Law had been accused of resisting investigations and reassigning offending priests, Mahony has brought considerable discredit upon the Church.

It is not my purpose here to launch an assault on Catholics, nor upon the majority of priests who are truly performing God's work in the service of mankind. Nor is it my attention to attack Christian doctrine- I am myself a Christian. I have my own opinions on what is wrong within the Catholic Church that has led to these abuses. In the interest of fair disclosure, I grew up as a Protestant, married a Catholic, and attended Catholic services, raising our children as Catholics. Now, with my children grown and able to make their own decisions, I have chosen not to attend Catholic Church services any further in the light of the priest scandals-especially the Church's refusal to deal meaningfully with the issue overall.

The story of the Archdiocese in Los Angeles under the leadership of Cardinal Mahony is a disgraceful scandal. To be fair, not all of the cases in the above-referenced lawsuit occurred under Mahony's watch, but many did. It is beyond question that as the complaints mounted and the lawsuits were filed, Mahony threw up every roadblock imaginable to thwart the efforts of the plaintiffs to achieve redress. Private investigators were sent out to question and intimidate not only the victims, but their families and other witnesses as well in an effort to discredit the victims. Efforts to obtain Church records on accused priests were resisted, in many cases, until the statute of limitations expired or plaintiffs simply gave up. Subpoenas issued by the District Attorneys Office in LA were resisted to the bitter end. Finally, this week, it came to the point that the cases were going to come to court, and Mahony had to testify under oath. Then came the settlement accompanied with an apology by Mahony to the victims. But an apology for what? Mahony apologized to the victims for what was done to them and for their suffering. Yet, he did not apologize for the all the years of his own fighting their efforts to achieve justice. He did not apologize for all the pedophile priests that came to his attention and whom he simply sent out for treatment and/or reassignment to other parishes. He did not apologize for all the legal efforts he mounted to defeat their complaints. He did not apologize for fighting tooth and nail to keep Church records secret that would have revealed how he and the Church tried to cover up these crimes.

All of this will remind Catholics in Boston of the activities in recent years of their own former Archbishop, Bernard Law, who committed all of the above acts. Now, he is a major domo in the Vatican, most recently having come to public notice as a speaker at the funeral of Pope John Paul II (a great man, who must have been spinning in his coffin).

So now, the question arises-what will become of Cardinal Mahony? Will he resign his position, retire or be transferred by the Vatican to Rome or some other post? Will he be further investigated by Los Angeles DA, Steve Cooley? (I hope so.) Or will he simply survive in his current position. Several observers are already predicting he will come out of this whole affair intact, if not unscathed. Reason? Let us not forget that Mahony enjoys great popularity within the Los Angeles Hispanic community. Mahony is also noted for his support for the illegal alien community in southern California and the US as a whole. He has been very outspoken in favor of amnesty and the status of LA as a sanctuary city. As for the news media in LA, the conservative radio talk shows have been most critical of the Cardinal (especially KFI's talk show hosts, John and Ken). What remains to be seen is the reaction of LA's newspapers-including the Spanish language media- to the settlement. Will they join the call for the removal of Mahony?
That remains to be seen.

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