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Is Cardinal Mahony barred from public ministry? (UPDATED)

Following the release of decades-old memos detailing Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials' efforts to conceal sexual-abuse cases, the new archbishop of L.A., Jose Gomez, has relieved Cardinal Roger Mahony of public duties and relieved auxiliary bishop Thomas Curry of his episcopal duties(.pdf). The archbishop's statement comes with the release of twelve thousand pages of diocesan personnel files related to the scandal. Gomez writes:

I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages. Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience Ive had since becoming your Archbishop in 2011.My predecessor, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care. Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry has also publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as Vicar for Clergy. I have accepted his request to be relieved of his responsibility as the Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara.

Most reporting on this letter has characterized Gomez's decision as a suspension: Mahony is "barred from ministry," Jerry Filtau writes. Michael Sean Winters hails Gomez as morally courageous: "If you want to see what leadership looks like, re-read Archbishop Gomezs bold, succinct, unaffected, rigorous letter." Yet, according to diocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg, Mahony's daily routine will remain largely unchanged.

Mahony retired in March 2011. As Tamberg told me, since that time Mahony "has had no administrative duties." Tamberg explained that in response to Gomez's letter, the cardinal "is reducing his public profile," which included many speaking engagements, and that the cardinal "has cleared his calendar of confirmation appointments this year." Yet Mahony "remains a priest in good standing, and a cardinal of the church," Tamberg said. "He can celebrate the sacraments with no restrictions." (UPDATE 1: The Archdiocese of Los Angeles just released a statement clarifying that both Mahony and Curry remain bishops in good standing, "with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Church and to minister to the faithful without restriction." It's not clear why Mahony has canceled his confirmation appointments.)

So apparently the effect of this "suspension" will be limited to canceled speaking engagements and no more confirmations. Cardinal Mahony will have public duties, but they will be limited to celebrating the sacraments.

This is not to say Gomez's decision is insignificant. Indeed, as David Gibson has noted, it seems unprecedented. He links to Jerry Filtau's story citing Canon 357: "in those matters which pertain to their own person, cardinals living outside of Rome and outside their own diocese are exempt from the power of governance of the bishop of the diocese in which they are residing." David also points out that, given Mahony's status as a cardinal, Gomez must have had approval from Rome. Perhaps that status prevented Gomez from issuing an actual suspension. Whatever the case, Cardinal Roger Mahony may have been publicly fraternally corrected, but it's inaccurate to claim he's been barred from public ministry.

UPDATE 2: Cardinal Mahony has released his response to Archbishop Gomez, in which he defends himself by listing steps he took to address the sexual-abuse scandal, and calls out Gomez because "not once over these past years [since Gomez became archbishop of Los Angeles] did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors." The cardinal is not wrong to point out that Gomez had plenty of time to review the files he now finds so scandalizing. But Mahony seems not to grasp what troubles people most about his role in the scandal. It's not that he just didn't do enough to protect minors from abuser-priests. It's that he worked to conceal abusers from civil authorities.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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Mahony claims he never was taught about child abuse at Catholic U where he got his graduate social work/psychology degree in the 60s. Imagine claiming a graduate degree and never even hearing about Sigmund Freud [in the 60s no less]and Freud's basic theory about childhood sexual seduction being responsible for adult neurosis. Almost everyone alive knew about Freud in the 60s = a short course from Wikipedia that Mahony missed. 'Freud, based on the data gathered from his patients early in his career, suspected that neurotic disturbances occurred when children were sexually abused in childhood (the so-called seduction theory). ;

This is still stunning. Where does Mahoney go now without walking in the shadow of what he had done?

As a priest as well as being a victim of clergy sexual abuse the actions of Bishop Gomez are too little, and too late. When I experienced my flashback in the fall of 2001 I was totally unaware of what was brewing in Boston. While I am a Boston priest, I had served in the USN as a chaplain and had retired in 1997. I chose NOT to return to Boston -- I did not know exactly why, but I knew I was not comfortable there. What kept me from returning was the slow realization that I had been raped.The theology training I had received in the seminary has me "intimately" associated with the hierarchy. Theologically I am an "extension of" the bishop (or apostle.) In essence I am one of them in that I represent all that they say and do. After my flashback I went into counseling. I struggled to remain in ministry but it was becoming harder and harder. Each day that I read about Mahony's antics in the courtroom trying to evade the release of information or documents pushed me into a corner. I could no longer represent the bishops. I could no longer be a part of their conspiracy, their deception, their cruelty. In November 2005 I contacted the Archdiocese of Boston and requested "retirement." I flew to Boston to meet with Bishop Lennon and within fifteen minutes was granted medical leave. I never did hear from O'Malley. I thought, surely, a priest struggling with remaining in active ministry would be worth a few minutes of his time - but that did not happen. I was scheduled to leave my assignment as chaplain at the Washington Hospital Center on 1 June 2006. On Tuesday of Holy Week I made the announcement at noon Mass in the chapel, and I explained "why" I would be leaving. Within hours I was reported to the Diocese of Washington and I was IMMEDIATELY relieved of my faculties, in short, I WAS FIRED for speaking the truth. Emotionally they had me back on that bed in August 1970 as I was being raped.And so, thanks to the likes of Mahony, George, Todd, Brown and all the others, I languish outside of Ministry that I so enjoyed. As I said earlier, this "banishment" of Mahony is too little, too late. Now, had the vatican stripped him of the title "Cardinal" I MIGHT have a different attitude - but then, what about all the others??

Irony here: Mahoney requested a Hispanic successor. What did he get? a right wing bishop affiliated with Opus Dei. Be careful what you wish for.

Here is a list of 173 accused Minnesota clerics....(updated) --- Added: --- Br. Stephen P. Baker (Franciscan Friar) with 1978-1981 Minnesota assignments at Parish of St. Patrick in Inver Grove Heights and St. Bridget Church in Minneapolis

I do not doubt that I am alone in thinking that it would be preferable that he be barred from walking the street--by, you know, actual bars.

This is clearly extraordinary and seems to be a precedent. Will be interesting to see the fallout from this. Whether this will presage a new era of acknowledgement remains to be seen. Meanwhile Cardinal Egan is out there, who never revealed the records of New York, recanting his apology. Did he get away with this because he quietly settled all the law suits. New York remains baffling and no reporter has really pursued the matter. Amazing.

Grant, thank you for the clarifications. There seems to be some confusion now, and I suspect it will take several days to sort out all the actions and details.1. As noted, certainly Rome approved of Archbishop Gomez's decision to severely limit Cardinal Mahony's role in presiding at archdiocesan functions and and in prohibiting his taking on speaking engagements. But the cardinal is not suspended from ministry, and is still free to celebrate Mass and other sacraments at the parish where he lives in retirement. I suspect he will limit his ministry to that church only.2. Cardinal Mahony remains a member of the College of Cardinals. Only the Pope can ask him to resign. In that capacity, Cardinal Mahony continues as a papal elector until he turns eighty on 27 February 2016.3. Archbishop Gomez called the action of the priest abusers "evil," but stopped short of similarly characterizing the actions of Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry.4. Bishop Curry has been relieved of his role as episcopal vicar for the Santa Barbara area of the archdiocese, but he remains an auxiliary bishop. Only the Pope can remove him from that office, and that seems likely.5. There are over 12, 000 pages of documents that the archdiocese has released. No doubt, the poring over of them has begun, but it will take time. Very likely, the records will also not be altogether positive with regard to decisions of Cardinal Mahony's three immediate predecessors -- Cardinal Manning, Cardinal McIntyre, and the first archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Cantwell.6. Archbishop Gomez has promised a further statement.Many questions remain at this very early stage.

I'd like some clearer understanding on what Cardinal Mahony is still permitted to do and what he is no longer permitted to do. It would be helpful if someone with some knowledge of canon law would comment on the interpretation of Canon 357. Specifically, I'd like to understand the phrase "in those matters which pertain to their own person". Does Archbishop Gomez have authority to revoke some or all faculties of Cardinal Mahony? Presumably, Gomez could do so for any non-Cardinal in his jurisdiction; does Canon 357 prevent Gomez from doing so for a Cardinal? In addition, there are some things that a priest can do, not because he has been granted faculties for them by his ordinary, but by virtue of his ordination. Mahony is a priest, a bishop and a cardinal; what things may he continue to do because of all these statuses? For example, I assume he can still say mass - I assume that comes with the territory when one is ordained a priest. But does he have a right to celebrate a public parish mass, or does he need a faculty from the archbishop and permission from the parish pastor to do that?

Jim Pauwels: from the diocesan spokesman:"An archdiocese spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said that beyond canceling his confirmation schedule, Mahony's day-to-day life as a retired priest would be largely unchanged. He resides at a North Hollywood parish, and Tamberg said he would remain a "priest in good standing." He can continue to celebrate Mass and will be eligible to vote for pope until he turns 80 two years from now, Tamberg said.",0,345... confirmation is different from he other sacraments because it requires a delegation from the ordinary to act in his place.

I wrote "over 12,000 pages of documents." That appears to be far too low. Various sites give differing numbers. In any case, it's a lot.Is canonical parsing relevant here? Perhaps. But, on the other hand, is what has been reported concerning Cardinal Mahony's future functioning in the diocese simply a "fraternal" agreement between the archbishop and the cardinal? In the face of the revelations so far and the many more still to come, it makes sense to me that Cardinal Mahony has given Archbishop Gomez his assurance that he will limit his ministry to the parish where he lives in retirement. Does that mean if he were to be asked to celebrate the Funeral Mass of a longtime friend in another parish he would be barred from doing so? I doubt it. I think this is a "gentlemen's agreement." There will likely be rare exceptions. Cardinal Mahony now begins a very quiet life. His canonical standing as a priest and bishop is, I think, not at issue.Whatever his faults, Cardinal Mahony must clearly see that a continuing public presence in the diocese where he was bishop for over a quarter of a century would only hurt the diocese he long served. He has accepted a public penance. Some may think that doesn't go far enough. Expulsion from the College of Cardinals? Probably not.

Maybe this is a trial balloon. People have been clamoring for years for more accountability: maybe the Vatican have decided to give it a try. Target someone with a liberal bent, therefore out of fashion in current circles of influence. Who is retired, therefore who can be pulled out without creating too much disruption. Post a somewhat ambiguous statement from Abp Gomez, not directly from the Holy See, so that there can be "clarifications" depending on public reaction. Now the Holy See is going to wait and see how this is received.Meanwhile Cdl Mahony, according to wikipedia, is on the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America: will someone ask him to step down? He is also apparently a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1989present), and of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (2000present). Will he be asked to drop those responsibilities?

Correction: he is no longer on the board of trustees.

Claire: Great points. I consider you a seasoned observer of Vaticanese and its uses. Ambiguous statement not directly from the Holy See; clarifications available as future developments become clearer, depending on public reaction. Perfect trial balloon.John Page: Canonical parsing indeed. I always appreciate your knowledgeable analysis. Gentlemen's agreement not to create headaches for Gomez, but leave Mahony basically intact.It is interesting that one can be both stunned by Gomez's limited move and hold withering, justifiable disgust at such a paltry punishment.I also recall the shameful, cruel treatment of Rev. James Moran when he was fired. It fits right in with the standard for relating to abuse survivors generally; in case anyone needs a reminder of the true hierarchical character of long standing. I hope Catholics will signify as a united group that Mahony, Curry et al need to experience more than hand-slapping rebuke. Insist publicly and forcefully that these men have their faculties removed. They long ago abandoned the Gospel for self-preservation. Sadly, I believe Catholics in general are far too supine and passive for the task. And pope, cardinals and bishops know it. Is Law's record any different? George's? Brown's? Egan's? Lori's? Where are the prosecutors who should have indicted Mahony for perjury?

Carolyn - what else would you have Gomez do, that he is able to do?

Finally the ugly truth is being exposed, finally the victims may feel validation, and finally these church officials might be held responsible for covering these sex crimes, so that no other child is sexually abused again. But this is curious.....How is it possible that Cardinal Mahony (who deserves to be prosecuted for covering up sex crimes against innocent kids) can be removed of his duties.?....And yet convicted criminal KC Bishop Finn can not..? They make up their own rules.. which is so sad for all the victims of clergy sex abuse..Keep in mind, the LA Archdiocese is not unique in how they handle sex crimes against kids.Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511. [email protected], (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

This seems like just damage control to me in the face of what will most likely be even worse revelations in the soon to be released documents. This way the public perceives the church as "punishing" Mahony while in actuality his life goes on pretty much as before. I will believe the church really cares when the pope removes Mahony as a cardinal. Meanwhile, it's still theoretically possible that he'll be our next pope :(

"what else would you have Gomez do, that he is able to do?"Call for Finn to resign.Call for an independent investigation into the Vatican's handling of the Maciel matter.There are a number of curernt bishops identical to Curry who acted as vicars in various diocesan coverups. Their rewards for loyalty were episcopal appointments. He should call for their resignations as well.Call for a systematic churchwide independent investigation into the actual observance of celibacy by the priesthood.

PS - just curious ... how much does a cardinal make per year?

Crystal:Do you mean Church Salary that includes money from wealthy benefactors?

Helen - yes, just wondering.Meanwhile Mahony responds publicly to Gomez on his blog ....

Cardinal Mahony probably would have been better-advised to refrain from publishing his letter, as I expect subsequent comments here to illustrate. That he felt the need to do so testifies, I think, to the sting he is feeling from this public rebuke.

"In Rome, meanwhile, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, was quoted by Catholic News Service [] as saying that the "measure taken by the archbishop naturally regards his archdiocese and not other duties that Cardinal Mahony has received from the pope in the Roman Curia." "(h/t ... Rocco Palmo their any more large Roman churches over which he can be made Grand Poobah, retiring in luxury next to his buddy Bernard Law?

"Crystal: Do you mean Church Salary that includes money from wealthy benefactors?"Don't forget his "household budget", benefits, and associated perqs.At one time (who knows now) the Abp of SF had a "household budget" of about $300k per year. Can a cardinal be far behind?

Looks like Mahoney was blindsided. (Am I surprised that it was done by a bishop with an affiliation with Opus Dei?) So much for private fraternal correction.Mahoney has been a bit of a Lone Ranger among the recent U.S. Hierarchy. After all, he was good friends of Bernadin and presided at his funeral mass and Bernadin does not have many admirers in the U.S. hierarch today.I am surprised that Mahoney claims that he was not prepared for the issue of the sexual abuse of children, since he has a degree in social work. Yet, he wrote that his studies in the early 60s did not mention the issue. So, it was hidden even then.My suspicions are that Gomez did not do this on his own initiative. Did he consult with Chaput, Dolan, Vigano, and more importantly, who in the Vatican?

Jim P,I did not mean to imply that Gomez should be the only resource for action against Mahony.Gomez removed Mahony from administrative duties. But, but Mahony has had no administrative duties since his retirement in March 2011. Apparently we have here a bit of public fraternal correction countered by Mahony's driveling response on his blog. Perhaps Gomez can require Mahony to give up his blog, but canon 357 presumably says no. You pose good questions yourself on various points.I maintain there are numerous possibilities for penalties to be applied or not applied. The rationales and methods for either position are likewise numerous. I suspect it is a matter of will. Since, "the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts" (John Locke), let's see what actions if any are taken: this minimal, opaque response, or something really substantive.The fact that anything at all is being done is considered groundbreaking speaks powerfully about the state of justice in the church. One might inquire why Gomez waited to act when he had access to all those documents himself for some time. Show a smidgen of leadership only when the secrets are revealed?Bring on more of those court orders to release documents!

Some of the comments on the NCR article on this affair suggest (to use no stronger a word) that Gomez fought a hard legal battle to keep the documents from being revealed, and only after he lost, did he turn against Mahony. (And they add that it is a case of an Opus Dei bishop nailing a bishop considered by some to be a "liberal," at least on some issues -- like immigration) I don't know the situation well enough to judge the fairness of these statements. Might they be true? or are they sour grapes?

Helen's comment about Mahoney - here is a link to an article and to his statement: seem to frame a *gentleman's agreement* in a different light and leads to other questions?Sorry, but Mahoney's defensive posturing concerns me for these reasons:- he starts off by trying to justify his postion using the 2012 archdiocesan audit and then asking why Gomez never raised any issues (from his statement: "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." if his actions since the Dallas Charter should absolve him of his 18 year failures leading up to 2002? Also, many excellent folks have been able to research and show the limited value of the current USCCB safety audits - they are based upon diocesan self-reports - thus, worthless as we now know- Mahoney continues to talk about his *naivette* and unpreparedness* even citing his mid-1960s social work graduate degree. He states: "Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem," states Mahony. "In two years [19621964] spent in graduate school earning a Masters 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."Can accept that but like social workers, counselors/psychiatrist, legal system, and law enforcement, folks who dealt with and confronted sexual abuse on the scale that Mahoney did seem to have learning curve that is much better than Mahoney's (Mahoney's learning curve reflects more closely to what we see in politics (state senate/reps when dealing with SOL laws)- it is difficult to understand that he began to deal with cases in 1984 (he says that he began implementing safety rules in 1986 - geez, the historical records don't seem to reflect that or it indicates that his efforts were pretty incompetent) and yet he was still naive until after the Dallas Charter? This is shocking incompetence and is totally unaccountable.- and he, like many of his peers, again trots out the mantra about how they suspened and sent to treatment but no one told them that treatment did not work - how many clerical cases does it take before you realize your own misunderstandings or those of others? Again, seems that he is stretching the record?- Keep in mind that Mahoney, like many leaders of the Natil Conference of Bishops, had documents in 1986 or later from Doyle, Peterson, Mouton and offers to do workshops, develop policies, etc. They were sabtagued behind the scenes- Some day we will find out how much money Mahoney spent and wasted on legal defenses over a 25 year period and it clearly had nothing to do with supporting victims. His statement ends by saying that in 2011 he handed over an archdiocese whose safety is second to none - that is hard to believe? where are the facts to support that allegation or opinion? Sounds more like wishful thinking and someone more worried about his legacy.- it amazes me that this educated man who has done such a wonderful job of using his social work and theology work combined to arrive at singular gospel statments on immigration, poor, economics, liturgy, pastoral work, etc. but allowed his desire to protect the institution to blind him to the realities of sexual abuse and limit his ability to respond with gospel values to victims and their families.

So,,,,is Cardinal Mahony only being"punished" in his own archdiocese in regard to a public role in ministry. Or can he go to another diocese to present talks, advocate for immigrants, etc.. while still living in LA and subject to his bishop there. Might another bishop elsewhere give him a public forum? Or would that be violating episcopal ethics by so dong? And is Mahony really subject to a mere AB? And how much did the Vatican have to do with this mild punishment? By temperment, I am skeptical of conspiracies, but I am beginning to place more credence in them when it comes to the Vatican and episcopal politics.

Every week I make a new vow to stay away from the two blogs that I look at. Clearly I broke that resolve today. Now to close.I agree with Jim Pauwels that Cardinal Mahony's letter does him no credit. It should never have been written, let alone made public. In light of it, I am inclined to withdraw what I said about a "fraternal agreement" earlier today. Mahony is not going gentle into that good night. If he did agree to house arrest, he's already had enough.The real story is the thousands of pages of documents that will be gone through over the weeks ahead. The horrible revelations of 2002 began in January. So now those of 2013. The bishops may want to cancel their June retreat in Coronado, California, and book a site in Dallas.How long, O Lord, how long!

Bill DeHaas rightly points out " Mahony, had documents in 1986 or later from Doyle, Peterson, Mouton and offers to do workshops, develop policies, etc. They were sabotaged behind the scenes' Let's add that the sabotage message was delivered by Mahony's axillary bishop William Levada who was designated to deliver the news to Doyle and Peterson to stuff their plan' ...a plan to investigate and prepare a plan to deal with it in all dioceses.

Mahony is now inconvenient. Gomez has been leading the fight the last two years to keep those documents secret, with no repercussions for Mahony before this. If Mahony were Opus Dei, how different would the situation be?Only speculation... I am glad that Mahony's letter is published. It exposes the self-serving character of hierarchical thinking. We need to know the clerical pedestal is a false idol. What better way to achieve that?

Just a thought: Perhaps, Archbishop Gomezs legal advisers have informed him that there will be mucho legal cases now that these documents are avalable and that he had better protect his hind quarters and I dont mean with a cappa magna.

Checked Twitter to see if the Pope or Vatican would have anything to say.........crickets.....

The Jocks are jockeying, the fall out is cascading and no one is without sin. Gomez may come out worse than anyone for throwing the first stone. And if he is doing it for legal and political reasons the more the shame.

Terry McKiernan of cites PR motives for Gomez's move:He "noted that Mahony will keep the title of "archbishop emeritus" and suggested his removal from public life was primarily an effort to blunt the wave of criticism likely to follow the file release."They are trying to gain control of what is truly a devastating time for them," he said.

More from Terry McKiernan at"...he believed Gomez' actions against Mahony were more symbolic than punitive."They really thought this through, McKiernan said. "My feeling is they didn't want Mahony to be humiliated or to take a hit."It was the best way, really, that he could get out of a very embarrassing situation. It's punishing him in a way that doesn't punish him. Perhaps Gomez benefits because he's taken action, and the Vatican doesn't have to reprimand him."It's an interesting PR situation: do something to assuage public reaction, but nothing really substantive. And keep Rome out of it as much as possible, above the unpleasant details.

George D,As for the Vatican's expected "hands off," from the Wall St. Journal: "Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi described the handling of Cardinal Mahony as "a matter that regards the archdiocese" of Los Angeles, adding that Archbishop Gomez has jurisdiction over the public duties of clerics who serve in the area."

I wonder whether the new papal nuncio, Cdl.Vigano, had anything to do with this move.

Carolyn, I know nothing of Vaticanese, but I try to look at such events from a purely utilitarian perspective, removing any consideration of right and wrong. I find that often helpful in understanding what's going on.

John Page - you know than most of us put together. Wonder if the *gentleman's agreement* wasn't between Gomez and Vigano (possibly including folks such as Dolan) with Rome giving silent backing.It really is a public relations move but it does lay the *blame* on Mahoney. Wonder if they thought he would just remain silent?It is always interesting to imagine, reflect on, and project episcopal behavior - too often, they exhibit the same behaviors we see in US CEOs and their boards. Anyone can be sacrificed to deflect blame and keep the cash flowing.

Now that Cardinal Mahoney has apparently been sand-bagged, I wonder if he'll develop a bit of understanding of the theologians who are regularly condemned without warning.

New news from Archbishop Gomez:"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"

"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"I don't believe Gomez has the authority to cause either Mahony or Curry to cease being bishops. In the case of Mahony, the canon cited in the original post may prevent Gomez from revoking any faculties to celebrate sacraments. We'd need a fuller understanding of the legal ins and outs.And McKiernan is just wrong when he states that these are symbolic actions, implying that they are without substantive meaning or importance. These are important developments. For a retired bishop in passable health, administrative and public duties would typically be big parts of whatever ministry activities he had hoped to embrace in retirement. That is now taken away from Mahony. And of course, he is now officially disgraced. His legacy is in tatters, probably irreparably, in an official and formal way that wasn't the case before. My bet is that Mahony doesn't view that as a slap on the wrist.And while Curry had a much lower profile in the life of the national church, his resignation arguably is an even more momentous development. A sitting auxiliary bishop has given up - we may assume, under pressure - the administration of his vicariate. This is not much different than the ordinary of a diocese resigning. Had auxiliaries of Cardinal Law been forced to resign, one would assume that would be dancing in the street. So this reaction is very strange, to say the least.

Jim PI'd like to think Gomez's actions represent substantive measures against Mahony and Curry. But both remain "bishops in good standing...with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments...and to minister to the faithful without restriction." Mahony is retired without administrative duties anyway. I suspect he still has many supporters and like Law will carve out comfortable years attending enough receptions to make life interesting --- maybe even in Rome where he too remains on three dicasteries. I spent the evening reading LA documents (numerous redactions!) so am fully unmoved by his station in retirement. That he escapes criminal prosecution is simply galling. Curry may have similar opportunities, enjoying the solicitude of clergy who think he got a raw deal. Certainly, their new status is better than nothing in recognition of their (alleged) criminal negligence. But the consequences seem far from an appropriate scale of rebuke, or justice.

Just one quick point to try and respond to question that keeps coming up in this thread about the role of the Vatican in this process. John Allen is reporting at NCR that Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, (Vatican spokesperson) is currently deferring a Vatican public statement because they need time "to better understand the situation." I thought this was interesting, anyway.

Weakland, Ziemann, now at last Mahony ... nice to see the Holy Spirit swabbing the decks of the Barque of Peter. "There's an east wind blowing, such a wind as never blew on the Church yet" to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes. By the time the gale is over the progressive influx culminating in the now-ageing hippies of the "Spirit of Vatican II" generation will be consigned to one of the saddest and most evil chapters in the history of the Catholic Church.Perhaps now we can ask the exCatholics to come back to a reverent, meaningful Liturgy in which they can participate in a full, active and intelligent manner, not the "I'm okay, you're okay" fuzzy-wuzzy New Age Catholicism of Mahony, Troutman and others of a similar bent which has done so much to cause people to leave in disgust to join evangelical Christianity or Buddhism or, in the case of Tom Cruise, John Travolta and too many others, the cult of Scientology..

Locksley, this is about sexual abuse, not about liturgical differences. The repercussions of the sexual abuse scandal are not primarily to get back at the people who promote liturgy that you dislike, but to deal with sexual abuse and just that. We would speak in the same way if the cardinal in question favored traditional style liturgy.

Carolyn - like you, reviewed a couple of cases that I have some familiarity with. It was interesting to see that redactions are in each case (the only redactions that were removed were for archdiocesan positions - vicar of clergy (Curry, Zieman, etc.) and Mahoney. But, in the case of a religious order priest, any of the names of provincials, provincial consultors, etc. have been redacted.My interest is in the church, seminary leadership, etc. learning from these cases and early mistakes. Yet, that probably will not happen. Each case starts with a brief bio - year of birth, year of ordination, list of assignments. It would be helpful if there was more detail - what seminary attended, who were the folks who voted to permit ordination and why?, etc. This would get at one aspect of the learning curve - key element is screening, development, and staff who approve ordination. Will these cases and revelations impact this process - will it improve it? will these folks learn anything?Also, it was interesting the see the number of times clerics were sent to St. Luke's and how often they were discharged without a diagnosis of pedophilia and yet went on to commit even more crimes, more victims, etc. Being in mental health, realize that there was also a learning curve but St. Luke's surprised me - given that this was their specialty, their clinical work left a lot to be desired.

Locksley's comment, a couple of comments above this one, may be worth noting in light of this passage from David G's RNS article: "The Los Angeles case inverts some of the usual assumptions about church politics in that Mahony, who was archbishop from 1985 to 2011 and a cardinal since 1991, was known as something of a liberal in the hierarchy, advocating for immigration reform and economic justice issues. Gomez, on the other hand, is associated with the conservative Opus Dei society and is seen as a loyal defender of orthodoxy."I'm not sure how apparent this is to readers and commenters at dotCom, as most folks who post and comment here tend to be of a liberal bent and most of us tend to hang out with our like-minded fellows, but conservatives in the church are no less disgusted by the sexual abuse crisis, and no less motivated to punish malefactors. Locksley's comment is somewhat typical of a particular thread of conservative commentary, in that he (or she) attributes the problem to moral failure, whereas many of the liberals here are more likely to point to issues of power and authority. But a moment's reflection might lead one to note that the two are not mutually exclusive.As an illustration, which I believe would be congenial to most dotCom readers, of how conservatives tend to approach the crisis, I'd recommend this book review column by Richard John Neuhaus on clericalism and the sex abuse crisis. view is that sex abuse doesn't derive from ideology, of the left or the right. Sin is more universal than that. It seems to me that there is a possibility for substantial common ground between church conservatives and church liberals on this issue of the sex abuse crisis and what must be done. I might go even farther than that and suggest that maintaining divisions between liberals and conservatives on this issue can only serve the interests of those who have no interest in fixing what needs to be fixed.

Jim P - yet, that doesn't always hold true. Link to just named bishop in Oregon: indicate that as bishop in Michigan, he did no more than Mahoney and now he has been promoted. Some of the ROTR hope that Sample will take on OCP - what some see as a liberal hymn making organization.What is of more concern given your comment are Sample's replies to certain questions:- "It's a very tricky minefield I have to navigate. There are competing interests at stake. First and foremost are the interests of those who have been victimized. But there are also the interests of the accused. We live in a system, in a church, where the accused has a right to defense. And, in civil cases, we have to be concerned for the patrimony of the diocese and the interests of the folks in the pews. Sometimes the bishop is in the middle. People are angry because he hasn't done enough for the victims or hasn't been just to the priest. Parishioners are mad because we've removed their beloved pastor and the charges couldn't possibly be true and why are they bringing it up 25 years later. And the issues of confidentiality and the right to privacy apply to victims as well."Sorry, does not appear that the victims will be his first priority; at best, he will balance; at worst, victims will get short shift.- "I've visited parishes where a priest has been removed and parishioners are all over the board. They're angry, confused. We need to explain the process to them and we can't afford to forget about the victims, they need to be informed and brought along through the process."Sorry, again, he appears to be caught in time warp - this is the response of a bishop in the 1990s. (BTW - Sample is a big advocate of the TLM and goes out of his way to support any and all TLM activities.)So, agree with your last statement but Sample is an example of someone who connects ROTR with a less than adequate response to sexual abuse. Also, keep in mind that Neuhaus publicly supported Maciel even when overwhelming evidence was present.

Carolyn Disco:Re: Terry McKiernan of citing PR motives for Gomezs move:His statement could be interpreted as Gomez is trying to protect Mahony (whose name I have been misspelling as Mahoney)? Nah! I doubt it.I have reread Cardinal Mahony's statement which some bloggers think is whining and not appropriate. My take, for what it is worth, is that he is expressing true remorse, even though it is quite late.As a native of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I note that Cardinal Bevilacqua went to his grave without one statement of remorse, nada, zilch. Dante would have a special place in the first third of his Divine Comedy for him.

When Mahony keeps seeing the conservative bus keep coming around and around in the next couple of weeks to run him over and over [see above] we may get to some real revelations and confrontations. .

Digression?????LaStampa reports today that the bishop of Lausannes, Geneva and Freiburg, Switzerland, who is also Rector of the Angelicum, has decreed that the SSPXers may not use Catholic churches and chapels to say Mass, etc. What I find most interesting is that this is the second instance in just one week of a highly placed bishop taking major action that one would have expected to come from the Vatican. In other words, it looks like the Vatican is instituting a change of policy: It is letting bishops (or at least the ones who agree with the Vatican) make their own decisions. Is the manner of this condemnation (a local act) inspired by a new reliance on PR to deflect criticism from the Pope and Vatican? Has the Vatican discovered that a negative decision taken by an underling might cause less of a ripple than one taken by the CDF or the Pope? If so, such a new policy might help to explain Apb. Gomez' actions.Or, miracle of miracles, has the Pope started to recognize the proper authority of the bishops and is letting them make decisions about their own dioceses?

Or maybe they are implementing the Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church after 48 years.6. To bishops, as successors of the Apostles, in the dioceses entrusted to them, there belongs per se all the ordinary, proper, and immediate authority which is required for the exercise of their pastoral office.

Ann Olivier, Here is the complete text of the decree by Bishop Morerod (French only, sorry) is presented as being more generally about who can be allowed to use Catholic Churches and Chapels rather than specifically about the SSPX (athough that may be the behind the scenes reason for it)The introduction says the bishops and terriorial abbots of Switzerland enact by this decree particular norms applicable to their dioceses or territorial abbeysWhich sounds as if it may be a joint action which each Swiss Bishop and Abbot is publishing separately to make it applicable throughout the whole of Switzerland, not just in Bishop Morerods diocese.

Ann ....IF you think there is a 'new' Vatican policy to let the next level make decisions ,what do you make of the new German A/B of the CDF saying "Vatican archbishop compares attacks on Catholic Church to pogroms against Jews' I guess we should be thankful his rhetoric didn't include Holocaust.

Ed,That remark is positively disgusting. I think the new prelate is Gerhard Mueller, formerly of Regensburg (or was it Munich?)Do you have a link? Will no one make clear that his remark must be withdrawn and an apology made? You don't have to scratch the surface too far, do you?

Ed --I don't see much similarity between bishops making up their own minds and the head of a dicastery saying something paranoid, but you might be right. Archbishop Muller does seem quite headstrong to me, and perhaps he's much inclined to sound off. And maybe that's why he got he job.I dunno. AB Gomez' action startled even Mahony. One explanation for the mini=turmoil I haven't yet seen floated is that the Pope might be losing his grip. If that's so, there could be all sorts of currents ad counter-currents roiling in the Vatican and the hierarchy as efforts are made to consolidate power before he leaves us. Who knows. And isn't it sad how the secrecy of the Vatican inspires all sorts of conspiracy theories, like the one I just articulated. Sigh.

It seems to me that there is a possibility for substantial common ground between church conservatives and church liberals on this issue of the sex abuse crisis and what must be done.I agree.

Claire--I would like to think that, but you can't find the attacks on Archbishop Gomez in here, as a member of Opus Dei, very encouraging, can you?

Nicholas Clifford's conjecture at 5:11pm strikes me as the most likely, because it's the most cynical, but it doesn't matter: Abp Gomez is now on people's radar as a potential "good guy", so to speak. It all depends on what he does in the future. Even if he's playing a role, as long as playing a role means bowing to the will of the people who are scandalized by sexual abuse, then I say, good for him. In the first order I don't care about whether leaders have integrity (they're all suspect anyway), but about whether they do the right thing; their motivation doesn't matter. "Doing the right thing", at this time, means confronting the sexual abuse cover-ups.

Claire ==Yes, doing the right this is most important as far as the Church is concerned. The motives of the bishops are between them and God. As to AB Gomez being a member of OD, I think it's not fair to assume that they're all dishonorable people. Some I have read of sound quite idealistic, if naive. But then, there was Maciel ...

Oops: doing the right THING

Double oops -- Maciel was the founder of the Legionaires. But Escriva weren't no lily, in spite of his canonization.

"Its not that he just didnt do enough to protect minors from abuser-priests. Its that he worked to conceal abusers from civil authorities."Grant --You've hit the nail on its head. It's the active concealment that is so reprehensible. It's the worst sort of lying=by-doing.By the way, Mayor Koch's demise and all the talk of his friendship with Cardinal O'Connor, who was so respected, made me check out Cardinal O'Connor at bishopsaccountability. It seems that he, back in the 80s was well aware of the seriousness of sexual abuse of minors and tried to stop it in New York. So it just isn't true that nobody was aware of the seriousness of at least some of the crimes.

Ann Olivier:I cannot find on bishopsaccountability information about Cardinal OConnor' awareness of the sexual abuse of minors and his attempts to stop it in New York. I am not refuting it. In fact, I am more than curious since he is a Philadelphian and I know members of his family, next generation after him, of course. I hope your information is correct, since I do not like to think ill of the dead, except for Cardinal Devilacqua (oops typo).

I too can't find anything on about O'Connor's good record. The search function can be problematic though.O'Connor was an auxiliary bishop in the military vicariate; 27 years in the Navy, up to admiral. Here is what I could find on about a preliminary list of 95 priest chaplains in the military accused of abuse: believe I read somewhere there are about 850 to 900 Catholic chaplains in a chaplaincy corps of about 5,500.Yes, it would be nice to have good news about a no-nonsense bishop who took decisive action.

I note that there have been about 80 changes to the wikipedia web page in the past 3 days.

Mr. Gleason - think about this. Mahony had a Masters in Social Work and, supposedly, a state certification in CA. If that is true, then he was required by his professional certification to report abuse to law enforcement. Can't find this out completely but it appears that he let his MSW certification lapse in 1980 before taking over LA. But, it adds another layer to this discussion.

Lockley: you really need to stop wasting your/our time on this site and should be posting here ....

Bill deHaasI am not so sure that Mahony is not correct when he says that his MS in Social Work did not address the issue of the sexual abuse of children by adults. Freud thought that it was impossible for adults to be totally responsible since children at early ages were sexually provocative (e.g., Oedipus Complex.) More recent research indicates that Freud could not believe that an adult would do such things.Also, mandatory reporting of abuse by those in teacher and counseling situations is quite recent. I would guess only the past 20 or so years. I have an M.A. in Pastoral Counseling (1984) and the issue of mandatory reporting was not addressed in my program.

Bill deHaas,Interesting similarity to John McCormack, re: social work license. You see, people were approaching him as a priest, not a social worker.I'd have to search old files to refresh details, but I believe McCormack helped a foreign priest abuser get out of dodge and kept him apprised of any investigation efforts whether it was safe or not to return. Eric MacLeish's office gave me records and mentioned obstruction of justice in the Globe. Police were looking for the priest.Just found material under Barry Robinson in's database."The Boston Globe reported that church officials would not identify the youth to authorities and made no attempt to stop Robinson from leaving the country." See database of fugitives from justice - has plenty of company.

Helen,Mandatory reporting was fought by bishops in state legislatures for years. After 2002 such efforts were less successful.The Dallas Charter started out requiring all cases to be reported to authorities but the post-recognitio Vatican-approved version specified only where mandatory reporting laws exist. But even where such laws existed, various independent investigations (Cincinnati, NH, KC, Chicago) showed lack of compliance. I think bishops pay much closer attention now that violations are more likely to be prosecuted. Forced virtue, IOW.

Helen - California was an early state adopter of mandatory reporting laws. In fact, the state legislature looked at data in 1978-79 and saw that only 10% of reported cases were sexual abuse and so, in 1980 passed one of the most comprehensive mandated reporter laws. Federal statutes were already encoded on this.Brief CA history:In 1980, in response to this under-reporting and with the desire to comply with federal guidelines, the California Legislature repealed sections of existing law and replaced it with the Child Abuse Reporting Law. The new law included the crucial component of knowledge in the statute, thus specified individuals no longer needed to observe the abuse, but only needed to have information about the offense. The law was rewritten several times in the 1980s to address certain deficiencies and in 1987 the Legislature amended the law once again and renamed it the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.

Helen ==About Cdl. O'Connor trying to help the abused. I read an article by someone named Likoudis at bishopsaccountability concerning a big scandal in Albany, New York, involving, according to Likoudis, the bishop of that city. (J gather that the writer is an extreme conservative. I don't know if that is relevant here.) The article was from a local Albany paper called "The Wanderer" (as I remember -- it wasn't the well known Wanderer). When I tried to find the article again, all that came up was a second article by the same writer at the same paper about some of the same matters, but it doesn't talk about the Cardinal trying to help the abused. Here's the second article::// first article, as I remember it, said that Cdl. O'Connor had gathered information about purported abuse by a number of priests and had appealed to Pope John Paul II for help, but JP II replied "I can do nothing about it".The story revolved around an Albany priest, Fr. John Winkler who was trying to do something about purported widespread abuse, and who apparently committed suicide when the police were asking for his help to finger the guilty. The story is a particularly ugly one, and one wonders what the whole truth was, but I see no reason to doubt that Cdl. O'Connor was in fact trying to help the abused.

Here's a report from the NYT about a report which the bishop commissioned. :// report clears the bishop himself, but it has been contested by a lawyer for some claimants of abuse. Ugly, ugly story no matter which way you look at it.

Ed ==One of my my room-mates when in grad school at Catholic U., got her M. A. in Social Work at the same time as C. Mahony. I assure you that she learned Freud. I can't understand how Mahoney could have escaped learning about the awful consequences of such abuse.

Helen --The interpretations of Freud you allude to might have been wrong, but the relevant question here, I think, is what version of Freud was being taught at C.U. in the School of Social Work.

Here's an interesting article in the NY Review of books by psychologist Oliver Sacks about how memory plays tricks on us all. Discouraging. Michael D'Arcy, 18 August 1932 -- 3 February 2013, Bishop Emeritus of Fort-Wayne-South BendWhere Lazarus is poor no longer, may he have eternal life.

@John Page,, yes... There are and always will be stand uo bishops.

At 9:00 Eastern tonight, HBO will show a two-hour documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa - Silence in the House of God" on child abuse in the Catholic Church.I haven't seen it, so I just pass on this information.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, I should get back to "unreality":My guess is that Gomez is trying to put some legal-exposure distance between himself [read: the LA archdiocese] and Mahony. Perhaps by taking this action Gomez gets to claim that Mahony has been cut free and what Mahony says and does is his sole responsibility, and not reflective of the LA archdiocese. I guess that would be more Gomez's prayer!!!Mahony's public response to Gomez is perhaps the most revealing aspect of the release of these LA archdiocesan personnel files to become public knowledge. Mahony had [has] a reputation even among clergy here in CA for being a very tough political infighter, with a real skill for close-in use of the stiletto right between the ribs when someone opposes him - and since he is a Cardinal we can assume that he won most of those confrontations. One of the most remarkable stunts Mahony was able to pull-off was the forced resignation of former Oklahoma Republican Gov. Thomas Keating [also former Deputy US Attorney General in the 1st Bush administration] from the National Review Board after Keating wrote an opinion piece in the NY Times depicting the operations of the Catholic hierarchy "more akin to the Mafia." [Rumor had it that Keating wanted to investigate Mahony's time in both the Stockton and LA dioceses.] Keating complained about the code of silence, protection of criminal sexual predators, and obstruction of justice, especially through the payment of hush money. Mahony challenged Keating publicly and called for his resignation - and apparently won since Keating left the National Review Board immediately!Mahony's power has to be sourced to the literally $billions that the LA archdiocese controls. Mahony was able to manipulate not only other American hierarchs but also the Vatican. [Mahony was a real prominent player in the last conclave that elected B16 - I will always believe that Mahony was able to place his all-time BFF William Levada at the head of the Inquisition which runs the world wide protections racket for bishops in exchange for his (Mahony's) support in the conclave voting.] Mahony was also a force to be reckoned with in California politics because of the near adulation for him from Latinos, especially immigrants [which number in the millions in LA] and the fact that he could throw a lot of "street money" around come election time. CA politicians feared him - still do.I hope that today's HBO release of the movie Mea Maxima Culpa keeps the sunlight on Mahony's record. Perhaps some brave CA district attorney will get a grand jury to indict him someday??? If Mahony can be taken down, hopefully he will take a few others with him under the principle that misery loves company. At least, given Mahony's public castigation of Gomez, it seems that Mahony is still up for a fight!

The French Catholic magazine La Vie draps a flattering portrait of Gomez: "De cette lessiveuse morale, financire et mdiatique, est sortie une volont sans faille de transparence et une "tolrance zro" exemplaire: c'est ainsi qu'il faut comprendre non seulement la phrase de Mgr Gomez, mais galement la mise en ligne sur le site du diocse de milliers de pages tires des archives de l'Eglise Los Angeles"In other words, bravo to Abp Gomez for criticizing the cardinal, but also for putting the files online. As if that had happened entirely because of his integrity and desire for transparency. I feel like I'm getting a glimpse of how history might get rewritten.

draps -> draws

John Hayes,Thank you for mentioning the HBO film. It is a powerful story of the victims' struggle for justice. HBO gave an advance screening at the VOTF conference last September. At least we got to see it without commercial interruptions.The case became a marker for the liberal/conservative divide in the church with 2010 NYT coverage. Ratzinger supporters absolve him of any culpability. The opposite view naturally holds otherwise. Remembering the Vatican's use of indirect language, plausible deniability, with yes, no, maybe, always and never simultaneously at hand depending on circumstances, it becomes a fascinating study in spin.Read some original documents in the Murphy case: (p. 54 is Murphy's dishonest letter to Ratzinger pleading mercy).Murphy lied about being repentant, and Milwaukee officials made that clear in Rome a few months later. No answer ever from Ratzinger; but his chief aide Bertone handled the matter. After that Roman meeting, a canonical trial was abated, much to the consternation of Weakland, who basically wanted to proceed no matter how close to death Murphy was --- to avoid a "priest in good standing" funeral with all the honorifics. Whether Weakland had to follow Bertone's "suggestions" or had the authority to continue a trial (technically he did) depends on one's understanding of how power is in fact exercised. When a cardinal asks a bishop or a bishop a priest to consider such and such, is it a friendly suggestion or in fact much more? A timeline of Murphy's assignments with links to original documents is here (see therapist's notes in 1993 especially) beat goes on. I believe Jim Jenkins sees the money/power dynamics straight up. Gomez' likely desire for legal-exposure distance from Mahony rings true.

HBO is running the film each night this week (Monday hrough Saturday) and then Monday and Friday next week. Hours and channels vary.

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