Cleansing Fire

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Cardinal Mahony Fights Back

February 1st, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

From Card. Mahony’s blog:

“Dear Archbishop Gomez:

In this letter I wish to outline briefly how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and I responded to the evolving scandal of clergy sexual misconduct, especially involving minors.

Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem. In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children. While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed. [So what, Cardinal Mahony! Human decency demands that you keep pederast priests away from innocent children!]

Shortly after I was installed on September 5, 1985 I took steps to create an Office of the Vicar for the Clergy so that all our efforts in helping our priests could be located in one place. In the summer of 1986 I invited an attorney-friend from Stockton to address our priests during our annual retreat at St. John’s Seminary on the topic of the sexual abuse of minors. Towards the end of 1986 work began with the Council of Priests to develop policies and procedures to guide all of us in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct. Those underwent much review across the Archdiocese, and were adopted in 1989.

During these intervening years a small number of cases did arise. I sought advice from several other Bishops across the country, including Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, and then Bishop Adam Maida of Green Bay. I consulted with our Episcopal Conference frequently. All the advice was to remove priests from active ministry if there was reasonable suspicion that abuse had occurred, and then refer them to one of the several residential treatment centers across the country for evaluation and recommendation.

This procedure was standard across the country for all Arch/Dioceses, for School Districts, for other Churches, and for all Youth Organizations that dealt with minors. We were never told that, in fact, following these procedures was not effective, and that perpetrators were incapable of being treated in such a way that they could safely pursue priestly ministry.

During the 1990s our own policies and procedures evolved and became more stringent. We had learned from the mistakes of the 1980s and the new procedures reflected this change. In 1994 we became one of the first Archdioceses in the world to institute a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board [SAAB] which gave helpful insights and recommendations to the Vicar for the Clergy on how to deal with these cases. Through the help of this Board, we moved towards a “zero tolerance” policy for clergy who had allegations against them which had proven true.

In 2002 we greatly expanded the SAAB group into the new Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board. They were instrumental in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and served as an invaluable body for me and our Archdiocese. They dealt with every case with great care, justice, and concern for our youth.

From 2003 to 2012 the Archdiocese underwent several Compliance Audits by professional firms retained for this purpose. Most Auditors were retired FBI agents, and extremely competent. Every single Audit concluded that the Archdiocese was in full compliance with the Charter.

[Here it gets real interesting…]

When you were formally received as our Archbishop on May 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth. You became our official Archbishop on March 1, 2011 and you were personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012—again, in which we were deemed to be in full compliance.

Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.

I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s. I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.

Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an Archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.

With every best wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

His Eminence
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles

“His Eminence” has no shame. How very sad.

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9 Responses to “Cardinal Mahony Fights Back”

  1. avatar Interstate Catholic says:

    He could very well be around for the next papal election since he is only 76.

  2. avatar Thinkling says:

    And not the ideal reverence for “Dear Archbishop Gomez” either.

    Sigh. This is one of those cases where the main contention points are not even directly addressed. What he is saying is possibly true, but irrelevant. Reminds me of the LCWR’s response to the CDF’s accusations of doctrinal irregularity. “But we do too believe in the Church’s teachings. We believe in the 3rd Commandment!” Umm, OK. Non serviam

  3. avatar annonymouse says:

    I think Cardinal Mahoney gives what is likely an accurate depiction of the way in which the understanding of these priests’ disorders (and objectively sinful behaviors) have evolved. And looking at this only from the relationship of an Archbishop and his priests, given what psychology taught in the not-too-distant past (that such disorders could be rehabilitated), Cardinal Mahoney is correct.

    What the Cardinal fails to recognize is that we live in a civil society and that (I presume) there were civil laws designed to protect children and adolescents. Laws which his priests were breaking. And the “smoking gun” memo released by Abp Gomez points to a deliberate attempt to evade the prosecution of what are more than sins, but indeed crimes. Is he taking responsibility for his deliberate evasion of the law? THAT, it seems to me, is the crux of what Abp Gomez is (rightfully) addressing here.

    Further, what the Cardinal fails to adequately recognize, is that these are real human beings whose lives have been shattered by the very men they should have been able to look to as spiritual Fathers. All he’s concerned about is whether he followed procedure. He fails to see that in each case, a real human being was seriously, psychologically wounded. Is he really sorry for that?

  4. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I can only say that in the Cardinal’s tenure, he was infamous for holding confrences where homosexuality, and other heretetical issues was promoted. Too bad he failed to recognize, or glossed over the fact that out of 5000 reported cases of sexual abuse, 4000 were of homosexual priests on teenage boys.

  5. avatar Hopefull says:

    It is interesting how so often those who achieve the highest levels of authority (e.g. a Cardinal in the Catholic Church) then so often find it difficult to submit to authority themselves, whether the authority of civil law or of a new, incoming Archbishop, or perhaps even of moral law? Similarly, the voice of the people is ignored and denigrated, as was shown in the invitation by Cardinal Dolan to Pres. Obama to the platform of the Al Smith dinner. Whatever happened to Christ’s words not to be as the Gentiles, lording it over the weakest?

  6. avatar SALLYANNE says:

    annonymouse says:

    Further, what the Cardinal fails to adequately recognize, is that these are real human beings whose lives have been shattered by the very men they should have been able to look to as spiritual Fathers. All he’s concerned about is whether he followed procedure. He fails to see that in each case, a real human being was seriously, psychologically wounded. Is he really sorry for that?

    I agree. Before the 1990s, most of us were not aware that sexual abuse of children was so prevelant in our society, especially in the Church. To think that members of the clergy were actually aware of what was going on and that they took it upon themselves to offer treatment for these priests in order to protect themselves is disturbing to say the least. They knew they were protecting criminals, regardless of their ignorance. I’m wondering if Cardinal Mahoney has actually talked with some of these victims in a group setting and listened to some of their stories, experienced their shame, discomfort, and anger. Possibly then he would understand.

  7. avatar Jim R says:

    Wow! Some years back Mother Angelica called him a heretic on the air. I have no idea if he is a heretic or not. But, I’m pretty sure now he is an arrogant jerk if nothing else. If that is harsh to call a Cardinal that, well, he’s earned it.

    He’s still reacting like a CEO – and not like a pastor, a father.

    I believe it was the Nuncio to France who, when Napoleon said he would destroy the Church, replied something to the effect of, “The Bishops have been trying to do that for 1800 years and have failed, and so will you.” Indeed, the road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests. God help us.

  8. avatar annonymouse says:

    Wow – JimR – great analogy – the “CEO”! We have no room in our Church hierarchy for “CEOs.” These men are called to be shepherds (which is where the concept of “pastor” comes from)!

  9. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    It’s my understanding that Mother Angelica was very definative in condemning a paper authored by Cardinal Mahoney putting The Eucharist is a very denigrating position. It almost doubted the Real Presence.

    Now nothing will get Mother’s dander up more than something like this, especially when coming from a Cardinal. So she was very explicit in defending the Real Pesence.

    The Cardinal was furious at her criticism and Mother was told to apologize on TV. Of course Mother said something to the nature of: I have been told to apoloogize but then got very passionate about Jesus in the Real Presence andd “Brooked no support to those doubting it.

    Then, the Cardinal was able to put pressure on Mother, from Rome to audit the finances of the network. It caused Mother so much strain and anxiety that she suffered a first of many strokes that ultimately debilitated her.

    But I am sure that Mother, in her debilitated state is praying constantly for the Cardinal.


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