FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2007 file photo, Cardinal Roger Mahony speaks during an annual multi-ethnic migration Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Cardinal Mahony and other top Roman Catholic officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark, according to church personnel files. Mahony, who is retired, issued a statement Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, apologizing for his mistakes and saying he had been "naive" about the lasting impacts of abuse. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)Over the last 10 years or so, a lot of civil cases against Catholic dioceses have been launched and played out in courts around the country. A side-effect of these has been the sporadic release of administrative documents showing the Church’s complicity (usually after-the-fact) in child abuse committed by its clergy. This happened in San Diego a couple of years ago. A little to the north, as the Associated Press reports, the archdiocese of Los Angeles recently loosed its own trove of documents that reveal its own guilt (WebCite cached article):

Prosecutors who have been stymied for years in their attempts to build a criminal conspiracy case against retired Los Angeles Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders said Tuesday they will review newly released internal priest files for additional evidence. …

Thousands of pages from the internal disciplinary files of 14 priests made public Monday show Mahony and other top aides maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark.

Some of the documents provide the strongest evidence to date that Mahony and a top aide worked to protect a priest who acknowledged in therapy to raping an 11-year-old boy and abusing up to 17 children, many of them the children of illegal immigrants.

These documents finally came to light — and they will be followed by more — due to a settlement over 5 years ago, whose terms the archdiocese only just now decided to obey:

The files of dozens more accused priests are expected to be released in the coming weeks as part of a 2007 settlement agreement with more than 500 alleged victims. A judge recently ruled that the church must turn the files over to attorneys for those people with the names and titles of members of the church hierarchy blacked out after The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times intervened.

The documents released Monday and the additional 30,000 pages expected soon raise the possibility of renewed criminal scrutiny for Mahony and other members of the archdiocese hierarchy. Mahony retired in 2011.

Despite the fact that these documents might reveal criminality, and even in spite of their own stated interest in them, prosecutors are still hedging, and aren’t promising much:

In a 2010 memo, a lead prosecutor in that eight-year investigation [launched in 2002] said the documents he had showed “the possibility of criminal culpability” by members of the archdiocese leadership, but a criminal conspiracy case was “more and more remote” because of the passage of time.

Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman said investigators had insufficient evidence to fill in a timeline stretching over 20 years and were, even then, hampered by the statute of limitations. He did not return a call or email seeking comment Tuesday.

It looks as though California prosecutors’ longstanding habit of giving the Church a “pass” is continuing; they have their rationale for not going after the archdiocese, and I expect they’ll stick with it. As usual.

One final note: Cardinal Mahony claims he’d been ignorant of the fact that child abuse is bad:

Mahony was out of town but issued a statement Monday apologizing for his mistakes and saying he had been “naive” about the lasting impacts of abuse.

Of course, his claim of ignorance is no excuse. Child abuse has been illegal — in California and lots of places — for a very long time. Mahony and his archdiocese was subject to a mandatory-reporting law beginning in 1997. Child abuse was wrong in the 1980s. It was wrong in the 1990s. And it’s wrong now. So he can’t credibly and rationally say he had no idea that child abuse wasn’t something he ought to try to prevent. Of course he knew it.

Note this is not the first time we’ve heard this sort of claim from a Catholic hierarch, in spite of how inexcusable it is. Former Milwaukee archbishop Rembert Weakland made a similar admission, a few years ago. Other hierarchs have expressed a flippant, dismissive attitude toward abuse allegations. Really, this is an old story. The hierarchs’ lack of anything remotely resembling morality has been on the record for many years. Yet, millions of Americans still cling to the Roman Catholic Church and continue to do the hierarchs’ bidding. Sad, really.

Photo credit: Reed Saxon / AP photo.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “Another Document Trove, Another Revelation Of R.C. Church Immorality”
  1. [...] been some fallout over the release of documents a few days ago by the archdiocese of Los Angeles showing its complicity in the abuse of children, going back [...]

  2. [...] 3: Yet another R.C. hierarch seriously claims he’d been totally unaware that child abuse was [...]

  3. [...] said similar, if not identical, things are Rembert Weakland, former Arcbishop of Milwaukee, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los [...]

  4. RuariJM says:

    "Cardinal Mahony claims he’d been ignorant of the fact that child abuse is bad:"

    No, he did not. I have little time for Card Mahony but he definitely did NOT say that child abuse was not bad.

    He said – and I quote you – "he had been “naive” about the lasting impacts of abuse."

    His coverups were despicable but he was far from being alone in underestimating both the long-lasting impact of abuse on the victims and the reality that pedophiles, in particular, but sexual predators generally, are virtually impossible to "cure". the accepted wisdom in the 1960s, 70s and 8-s was that intense therapy, including group therapy, could 'change' sexual abusers. It was only when the notoriously defensive psychiatric profession generally accepted empirical evidence that it was realised that these sessions actually made things worse. They reinforced perpetrators' feelings of victimhood, and presented them with proof that they were not actually alone – others were just like them, so they 'must be normal', in some way.

    That was not a unique position of the Catholic Church, not even in the strange world of Los Angeles. It was the general opinion of psychiatrists and criminal psychologists in much of the Western World.

    Mahony was bad enough and he kept on covering up after he had been explicitly told not to by the Vatican – but he never said that he did not realise that abuse was bad. You make yourself look like a bigot, unencumbered with any need for factual foundation for your arguments, if you persist in that. You may not think so right now as the tide is still running on your side for the moment but, be assured, karma will come and bite you in the ass!. Practice prejudice and bigotry and it is only a matter of time before you are exposed as a bigot. what the Cardinal actually did was bad enough – no need to embellish it.

    • PsiCop says:

      Re: He said – and I quote you – “he had been “naive” about the lasting impacts of abuse.”

      Precisely! That statement is another way of saying it’s not that bad. That’s what his words mean. It’s an alternative way of dismissing the abuse. What else do you think it means?

      Re: You make yourself look like a bigot, unencumbered with any need for factual foundation for your arguments, if you persist in that.

      I get that you — subjectively — think I’m a bigot. That’s fine. If you want to call me names, you can do that. It’s a free country, and it doesn’t bother me. But when someone says he was unaware of the effect of child abuse, it is NOT wrong to say this is another way of suggesting that child abuse isn’t bad. It’s fully logical, and it follows from the semantics of the statement itself.

      Re: You may not think so right now as the tide is still running on your side for the moment but, be assured, karma will come and bite you in the ass!.

      OK, so you accuse me of being illogical, but then you throw this threat of karma at me?! Seriously? If you’re as interested in having a “factual foundation for your arguments,” then please provide a “factual foundation” supporting the idea that “karma will come and bite [me] in the ass.” Go ahead. I await your factual demonstration that “karma” exists, that I have somehow crossed it, and that it will attack me someday.

      I don’t let Christian fundamentalists hurl threats of eternal perdition at me, so I have no intention of letting you threaten me with karma. If all you have to rely on are cosmic threats, then it’s difficult for me to take you seriously.

  5. RuariJM says:

    You're a narcissist, which must be awful for you as the only comment you have had in six months is me pointing out the contradictions and errors manifest in your own words.

    Mahony was dreadfully wrong but at least he didn't try to change the meaning of words in a convoluted and contorted attemp to justify his position.

  6. […] I’ve blogged about the release of documents by the Catholic Church in Los Angeles. This was the result of a lawsuit settlement back in 2007. That’s right … 6 years ago, the Church agreed, presumably in good faith, to release these documents, but resisted doing so until this year. I admit I don’t really understand the logic of agreeing to release some documents, yet staunchly refusing to release them — but hey, I’m just a cynical, godless agnostic heathen, so what could I possibly know about such things? […]

  7.  
Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. Login »