Feb 012013
 

Immediately complying with a judge’s order, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has released the personnel files of 87 clergy accused of sexual abuse and has posted the files online.

Archbishop José Gomez, who has led the archdiocese since 2011, announced that he has relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of all administrative and public duties, and that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, at one time Cardinal Mahony’s vicar for clergy, has resigned from his duties as a regional auxiliary bishop.

Cardinal Mahony served as Archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011. Until recently, Bishop Curry served as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Archbishop Gomez said in a statement. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”

“We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the Church. And we need to continue to support the long and painful process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken.”

When I first saw this story last night I went through a series of reactions starting with “Finally and appropriate response.”

I already had little respect for the Cardinal and what was left was almost totally eliminated by the letter he wrote in reply to Archbishop Gomez.

“Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.”

If only he had been trained to not cover up sexual abuse. His reply is exactly the type of thinking that led to the cover up of sexual abuse in that there is no responsibility and making decisions is hard. The problem is always because appropriate structures had not been setup. The problem and the horror of priestly sexual abuse is just something to deal with administratively, or at least this is what this attitude portrays..

What really outrages me about Cardinal Mahoney’s reply is that it displays zero sorrow for what he in fact did do. His attitude is that yeah I made mistakes and I apologized for them so just leave me alone about them now. There is really no public shame displayed in what he did and the fact is that even after this information started to come out it was business as usual for him.

Now as I said I was no fan of the Cardinal and it is easy to get caught up in what Archbishop Gomez has appropriately done. Still I find I have to look at my own reaction to this. I am experiencing too much schadenfreude and very little charity. It is quite easy to associate this story with the conservative/progressive divide when really it has nothing to do with it. Cardinal Law and Cardinal Mahoney fell on either side of this divide and yet acted roughly the same way. The types of attitudes that lead to covering up for priestly abuses transcend doctrinal orthodoxy for the most part.

One of the things that resonate about this story is the simple fact that there have been so few consequences for those who were involved in these cover ups. Once the facts of these cases came out the people involved usually going into bunker mode seeming to hope it will all pass by. Cardinal Law at least finally resigned. It reminds me of something Phil Lawler wrote on Bishop Finn wrote recently.

Having been found guilty in a court of law, and then having accepted the court’s verdict, Bishop Finn is now permanently handicapped as a teacher of the Catholic faith. The Los Angeles Times is not the first newspaper that has chosen to focus attention on his criminal conviction, nor will it be the last. Whenever he makes a public statement on a controversial issue, critics will be sure to remind us of the bishop’s troubles with the law, whether or not they are relevant to the issue at hand.

It may be unfair that Bishop Finn is now singled out as a convicted criminal, when so many other American bishops were guilty of the same offenses, and much worse, in the past. It may be unfair that the Los Angeles Times trains its editorial guns on the Bishop of Kansas City, when there is larger target at close range in Los Angeles. It may be unfair, but those are the facts. When an orthodox Catholic bishop makes a strong defense of the Catholic stand on contentious issues, the critics of Catholicism will fight back, and Bishop Finn is now vulnerable.

As much as I admire his stalwart leadership of the Kansas City diocese, I question whether Bishop Finn can act effectively as a teacher of the faith when his critics have such a handy means of impeaching his testimony. I question whether he can prosper as the leader of the Catholic community, in an increasingly hostile environment, while wearing a bulls-eye on his back.

Regardless of Bishop Finn’s past leadership I would agree with Mr. Lawler and it would be better for his diocese if he resigned.

Update:

Never mind, just more of the same. Archbishop José Gomez has issued the following clarification:

“Questions from the faithful and some members of the news media indicate that it would be helpful for me to clarify the status of Cardinal Roger Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry.

“Cardinal Mahony, as Archbishop Emeritus, and Bishop Curry, as Auxiliary Bishop, remain bishops in good standing in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Church and to minister to the faithful without restriction.”

  14 Responses to “An appropriate and long overdue response”

  1. Thanks for the comment on schadenfreude with reference to Cardinal Mahony. I too have been guilty of that. I will be adding him to my prayers.

    I have some misgivings about supporting a call for the resignation of Bishop Finn. Giving in to the attacks of the Homosexual Collective, the NCReporter, the LATimes and those many others is exactly the desire of the enemies of the Church who regularly use lies and hyperbole and anything else they can to attack our leaders and our followers.

    We are all sinners, from the highest to the lowest. And a determined enemy with access to and control of the print, broadcast, cable and internet media, and millions of very smart, determined and able communicators (and lawyers), will be able to pick off significant portions of the Church’s clerical and lay leadership.

    We have to make a stand. And the time is now.

    Bishop Finn committed a misdemeanor, akin to speeding, smoking in a forbidden area, or even a first offense of driving while intoxicated.

    How about hate-speech? Will that be a misdemeanor or a felony? Are we going to see priests prosecuted for their homilies and teachers for teaching religion?

  2. Thank you for this post. The Cardinal’s response to AB Gomez’ letter is ab-so-LUTE-lee breath-take-ing. DId Tad come up with this response? AMAZING. Amazing that he even would think he needed to make this press release. (I do hope that the AD is not continuing to pay for the Cardinals continued attempts to rehabilitate his “image.”)
    Your Eminence: at this point, from a PR point of view, perhaps it is best for you to just sail off silently into the night. Please don’t continue to embarrass yourself!
    May the Good Lord bring healing and peace to the victims of these crimes.
    And, btw, Your Eminence: you are not a victim here. MAN UP!

  3. Rome must act now. It must summon Mahony for canonical trial and strip him of membership in the College of Cardinals. Do Catholics really want this man to vote for Benedict’s successor?

    If Rome does not do these things, the world will know what it really values…and it wouldn’t be fidelity to God.

  4. BTW, Curt Jester, schadenfreude is neither an inappropriate nor a wrong response. Mahony had it coming. Don’t buy into self-condemnation. That’s been a trick the Church has used for all too long to intimidate the faithful, who are far more conscientious than the “shepherds” who claim authority in God’s name.

    While you’re at it, read Ezekiel 34, 1 Samuel 2:12-36 and Matthew 23. God is not amused when those who claim authority in His name abuse it for their own selfish purposes, disregarding their pastoral responsibilities in the process.

  5. Disagree vehemently about Bishop Finn. Those who want a convenient pretext to dismiss the bishop’s teachings will find one – one way or another. Teach away, Bishop Finn and ignore those who call for your resignation. Peter denied Christ and then turned out to be the one to whom Christ turned to lead the flock after His departure.

    • The lumping and grouping of Bishop Finn with Cadinal Mahoney is unfortunate. In legal circles the fact pattern is always key. Bishop Finn was found guilty of delaying 6 to 8 weeks in making a report …a report which he did initiate. It was a misdemenor. His defense amounted to he wanted to get all the facts and that he wasn’t aware that the short delay was a problem. HIs misdeed is way, way down the list of actions by Bishops that were a problem over the last decades…there are many dozen Bishops who committed more grevious errors. Finn was targeted for a number of reasons. His actions were more recent. He did lttle to cover up what he did and there certianly were political connotations as he was seen as a conservative voice out of step with the city’s dominant politicle class. It may still be a good idea for him to resign due to the fact that people will paint with a broad brush. It will effect his ministry. However, I don’t see any reason for the faithful to demand resignation or not accept his ministry and service.

      It is clear now that Cardinal Mahoney and Bishop Curry were much, much, much more culpuble. Essentially he was an accessory ‘after the fact’, aiding and abetting flight from prosecution, Fairly sure these were felonies. The statute of limitations may keep criminal charges from being brought. The actions, and the cover up were day to day offenses for decades against both victims and the Church alike. He never ‘came clean’. His actions releasing his letter to Gomez today show he is still evading reality to this day.

  6. Cardinal Mahoney will be the benificiary of my prayers when he is in a cell–where he belongs.

  7. (((When I first saw this story last night I went through a series of reactions starting with “Finally and appropriate response.”)))

    What can all of my spiritual/reality cells say exept that we’re all “ONE DAY CLOSER” to one day knowing Jeff.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2013/02/02/yes-mahony-is-right-he-is-also-so-very-very-wrong/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtPKI43TEiE

    Peace

  8. More fiddling while Rome burns; this whole sad and shabby story is more serious than many are willing to accept. The cardinal and the bishop could be charged with complicity in unlawful activity. This is a scandalf or the Church. However, what is equally sad it that the CDF are hell bent on ruining the reputation of one or more good priests in Ireland because they have had the temerity to suggest that there might be an appropriate discussion about certain aspects of church beliefs such as female ordination, contraception and celibacy.

  9. Those who want a convenient pretext to dismiss the bishop’s teachings will find one – one way or another.

    Handing over evidence to the family for destruction, and then spending 8 million dollars of diocesan money fighting a misdemeanor charge is a little more than a convenient pretext.

  10. Cardinal Mahony and others are wondering why Archbishop Gomez has taken two years to reveal the data that has just now been released (after having hidden by Mahony for 20 or more years.

    Archbishop Gomez was appointed a Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles on 6 April 2010; as a coadjutor had the right of succession, nothing else. Cdl. Mahony did not have to tell him anything about anything, least all about the hidden documents. Abp. Gomez became the Archbishop of Los Angeles on 1 March 2011 when Cdl. Mahony became 75. If Cdl. Mahony had been hiding records from the civil authorities for 20 or more years, it is quite conceivable that he hid them from Abp. Gomez too.

    You don’t think that’s possible? That a retired Cardinal wouldn’t lie to his successor? There is a situations that I know of in the US where that was just the case. And there probably more.

    Joseph Galante was Coadjutor Bishop of Dallas from 23 Nov 1999 to 23 Mar 2004. He had the right of succession to Dallas’ Bishop Charles Grahmann who had his own problems with child sexual abuse in his diocese. Bishop Grahmann wouldn’t even talk to Bishop Galante and refused to resign or retire. Galante was appointed Bishop of Camden, NJ when he left Dallas.

  11. Is it just me or have people mostly bloggers ignore what the Pope said in his message for Social Communications Day. Maybe people including websites and bloggers should read and heed it. He said we must engage people but NOT try to judge them or act like you know what’s best for them or worst still be uncharitable. Yes I am all for getting to the bottom of the whole abuse thing and yes we can all have our own opinions but please should a little balance. Remember the saying “Walk a Mile in My shoes’? I don’t happen to agree with the calling for Bishop Finn’s resignation but the same thing is no compassion or charity. Too many people who write blogs don’t just report news or facts they always have to “put their two cents in” Freedom of Speech I suppose. When the Pope puts out a tweet he thinks about what he says before he tweets it- Everybody else should take their example from him.

  12. Janet, that’s generally good advice, but since I don’t see anyone here saying anything offensive or “over the line” so to speak, I’m not sure who you mean it to be directed against.

  13. Scott just blame “IT” all on “LOVE” cause “IT” has been said that “LOVE BELIEVES ALL THING” and that where all problems lies.

    Don’t be silly sinner vic! Where did you hear this about “LOVE”?

    That’s why “I” believe in lust and if “IT” feels good “I” go for “IT” in other words no “ONE” is going to throw rocks at U>S 92% godly cells and get away with “IT” like they did with this guy called “Jesus”.

    Very funny sinner vic! :(

    Go Figure Victor! :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3qGbW2sLPo

    Peace

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