Cardinal Roger Mahoney passed the crosier, the crooked staff, to Archbishop Jose Gomez on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. Cardinal Mahoney thereby transferred leadership of the largest Catholic diocese in America, 4.3 million Catholics, on his 75th birthday.
Archbishop Gomez on Thursday, January 31, 2013 notified Cardinal Mahoney that he will no longer have administrative or public duties in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Church had released a few hours earlier about 12,000 pages of documents concerning the handling of clergy abuse cases by 122 accused priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. These documents laid out a sordid tale of clergy abuse, a coverup by Cardinal Mahoney and his Vicar for Clergy, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, and unconcern for the victims.
The documents were required to be disclosed pursuant to the terms of a 2007 settlement in which the diocese settled 508 cases for $660 million. Even then the Cardinal and his attorneys stalled, hoping at least to redact the names of the Church officials involved in the coverup. Judge Emilie Elias ordered the release by February 22 and Archbishop Gomez complied before the judicial deadline.
Archbishop Gomez came from Texas so he is in a position to put the scandal behind him; the Church can move forward.
It is assumed that Archbishop Gomez would not have publicly stripped the Cardinal of his duties without the concurrence of the Vatican. This act is believed to be unprecedented in the history of the Church in America.
I will now say what I’ve wanted to say for years in following the scandal. The Cardinal should be defrocked for his conduct.
Archbishop Gomez called these files “brutal and painful reading.” He called the behavior “terribly sad and evil,” adding “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.”
The Boston and Los Angeles dioceses seem to be the most egregious with these cases, shuffling priests from parish to parish, sending them to other dioceses without warning the receiving diocese, assigning them to elementary schools, and covering up.
Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston, was forced to resign in 2002, but the Vatican gave him a cushy position in Rome.
Cardinal Mahoney survived, perhaps because of his 25 year record as Archbishop of Los Angeles. He worked with Cesar Chavez, fought for immigrant rights, union rights, women’s tights, the living wage and economic justice He was against capital punishment. He built the beautiful, new cathedral. He even compared Arizona’s passage of S.B. 1070 to Nazi Germany.
History though will remember him for sullying his record by protecting clergy abuse. The documents clearly show he was engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. A June 2010 release from the LA DA’s Office found information suggesting “criminal culpability” in the Church hierarchy, but insufficient evidence to bring charges against the Church officials involved.
The newly released documents provide clear evidence for such charges, unless the statute of limitations has run. It may not because of the doctrine of fraudulent concealment, but even then a prosecutor will be leery of bringing charges against a Cardinal, a Prince of the Church.
One of the major crimes involved is the failure to notify the authorities of child abuse. John Manly, a plaintiff’s attorney, asked the Cardinal in a deposition “[Y]ou would agree with me that the first thing any priest should do … when you learn that a priest has molested a child is call the police, right?”
The Cardinal’s response was “Not necessarily.” He didn’t contact the authorities in reports of clergy abuse. Nor did he even try to contact the victims in many cases. In one case a warning was given to a priest, who immediately fled, presumably to Mexico.
The doping conspiracy by Lance Armstrong may have duped the world, but it did not physically harm an innocent victim. The conduct of Cardinal Mahoney perpetuated the rape of young boys by the priests under his liege in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Many of the victims were immigrants, for whom he expressed his support.
Cardinal Mahoney has publicly apologized for his mistakes, but still doesn’t understand. He has said before, and repeated today in his blog, that there was nothing in the course materials covering this situation in the two years he worked on a Masters in Social Work at Catholic University.
One must assume that he would have understood that rape was illegal. Hence, why should he believe that pedophiles could be cured through prayer and renewed faith at a retreat house in New Mexico.
The Church acted as if it was blindsided by the wave of clergy abuse revealed in the past 20 years. This wave was but the third in a series going back to the 1950’s. The reality is that the Church had not learned from the earlier cases. Only the widespread publicity, but especially the billions of dollars in earthy settlements, has converted, we believe, today’s Church into a zero tolerance policy.