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LAPD investigates abuse disclosures

I don't suppose detectives from the LAPD will put up for the redactions that obscure important passages in the documents the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released concerning its handling of clergy sexual abuse. According to reports from the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations, police are going through the records to see if any cases can be prosecuted.Police said they will investigate whether there was a failure to report crimes - a probe that would have to include the chancery. The Associated Press quoted the LAPD's detective commander:

Now whats being alleged is a failure to report, those kinds of things, so theres a new emphasis its not just the person thats accused of the behavior, but if its also if it was not properly reported, said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, who heads the detective bureau.Were taking a fresh look on cases weve already handled to make sure we dont have reporting issues that got past, he said.

Previously, the U.S. attorney's office took a run at investigating the archdiocese, but brought no charges. The feds were reportedly investigating for violations of the federal "honest services" law - at least until the U.S.Supreme Court reined in the use of that statute.Law enforcement officials have a great deal of discretion about the kinds of cases they prosecute. When public outrage persists, they will respond. I think that's what is happening in various parts of the country. Had the church cleaned house and immediately demoted those bishops who made some very bad decisions, we probably wouldn't be seeing these criminal investigations now.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).



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Mr. Moses - given that the release was contested for 5+ years after the settlement; that the retired judge permitted redactions but was later overturned, some are stating that the archdiocese may still have legal recourse in terms of further appeals - state of CA supreme court, etc.?Any information on that?

Hi, Mr. deHaas. I don't think so, but can't answer your question for sure. The issue of disclosure has already been to the California Supreme Court, which declined to grant an individual priest's attempt to block release of records.

Let's not overlook contempt of court for a unilateral decision not to release all LA documents even now, some of which are known to exist.Also, there may be some creative First Amendment challenges up some sleeves --- as when Mahony invented a "formation privilege" before. He kept disclosure at bay through two years past his retirement after all. How committed is Gomez after spending two years himself blocking releases? Why has he apparently kept some documents back?The most clever move was when the judge reviewing documents for release a few years after the settlement recused himself. Why? Because he accepted an award from the church.

Just announced - appears that the archdiocese has conceded that not all of the documents were released; that redactions were kept in place that should have been removed, etc. Will be interesting to see the additions.Carolyn - realize that this post is about LA legal folks reviewing cover-up but am also very concerned that these documents create an internal church discussion about:- seminaries (the USCCB has a committee that is looking into *national* seminaries. Why? Reduced vocations; realization that maintaining seminaries and staffs is expensive; fact that staff need to be trained, experienced, and skilled (the released documents indicate that formation staff consistently passed candidates on to ordination despite increasing post ordination issues; candidates with questionnable sexual behaviors; etc. Need much better control, expertise, and actual guidelines that are implemented by competent personnel with oversight, QI, feedback, etc. Seminary staffs are too often unaccountable or measured only by number of ordinations (that is a scary thought).- formation staff (need to realize that isolated clerical seminaries with little to no input from lay staff, lay experts, etc. created some of these issues). Review of the 124+ files and you note the large number of clerics from small, almost unknown religious communities. Begs the question - what was the level of formation, its competence, etc. - foreign clerics or 1st generation clerics Again, quick review and you see the numbers of substantiated clerical abusers who were foreign (unintended consequence of needing clerical manpower is to accept clerics with little screening, knowledge, or cultural development leading to issues). 1st generation - quick review indicates a concern about candidates who were 1st generation. Is there a pattern? Are there issues/situations that create tensions, acting out behaviors?- ordination approval - some of the files indicate the seminary attended but no information about rector, staff identified, formation directors? How often did a bishop over-rule the seminary recommendation and ordain a candidate? How often did a candidate's formation process show constant changes - 2 or 3 different seminaries attended (thus, making it more difficult for formation staff to get to know and identify psychological issues). How much pressure was on to ordain even when there were significant personal issues involved? Concern that some of the religious community clerics reported to2-3 different provincials (nature of communities that elect or change every 3-4 years). And as you say - if Mahony's *formation privilege* is defended, then these types of questions will not be asked; much less explored. How will we learn from this?

THE important point, Bill. Is anyone truly interested in learning?

I look foreward to the missing 18,000 documents with interest

Re: foreign clerics on the list I note how many on the list have Irish names and are from Ireland. Also, another factor which I am not in a position to know: How many of those priests are from eastern dioceses? There is a rumor, which may have some basis in fact that the large prominent dioceses in the east farmed out their troublemakers to western dioceses.

Helen - don't want to sound like a bigot but the story of the *FBI* in the US Catholic Church will some day be written. It is a bittersweet story e.g. dramatic and significant *brick and mortar* expansions led by 1st generation Irish bishops; tremendous growth especially in the South and West led, again, by Irish priests and bishops.But, like life itself, underneath there was a current of the Irish guilt, blame, and scrupulosity that impacted tens of thousands of Catholics. It also built a mindset in which clericalism and a top down church ruled supreme. FBI was a sarcastic label used by many priests who ran into the Irish hierarchy - bishop, monsignors, consultors, etc. who were predominantly Irish in some dioceses (think Boston, Chicago, NYC, NJ). The US Church depended upon clerical vocations/priests from Ireland to staff new dioceses in the South (think Biloxi, some Florda dioceses, some Texas dioceses) especially in the 1940s-50s.Another sarcastic judgment often levelled was that FBI clerics were escaping the limited and poor economic situations of Irish dioceses - by coming to the US, they automatically lived an upperclass lifestyle.And, yes, you have deduced from the files that some were sent to escape abuse claims and to avoid scandal or gardai. The same is true for dioceses such as Boston, Worster which recycled abusived priests to LA, Orange, SF, Phoenix, Tucson, etc. (it is not a rumor - the files provide actual evidence of this movement)

I don't like to disparage the FBI completely since I know quite a few great Irish-born priests from my time 22 years in Florida.But, someone quipped: "The Irish priests came to do good and they did very well."

Helen - here is one book and a description from Tom Doyle: the book and have read it a couple of times. IMO, not well written and makes connections that just aren't there but the scope and intent are interesting approaches.

Helen - you might also enjoy and link to the Irish catholic culture with this just posted article by Fr. Komochak: quotes:God loves victims, requires victims. It is His way. Did He not make His divine Son Jesus Christ a victim? And no one was more pleasing to God the Father than Jesus, His Son; and yet He was the great victim. The Blessed Virgin was another victim, he went on, pierced by the seven-edged sword of sorrow, and so were the martyrs who poured out their blood for the faith. What does this prove? he asked the people. It proves that God loves victims; that he wants victims in order to appease His anger against a guilty and fallen race. He chose His victims, but chose them kindly and mercifully. He chose them in His goodness from those that were well prepared in a good moment. [The Catholic Churches of New York City, ed. John Gilmary Shea (New York: Goulding, 1878) 301-303]How comforted his people were by Fr. Langcakes words we cannot know, of course; it could very well be that they were not unfamiliar with a God as harsh as the conditions of their existence in the world of nineteenth-century Irish immigration. The theological position on which the priest relied is known as the theory of penal substitution: Christ stepped into our place and endured the full wrath of Gods vindictive justice, even the pains of hell, in order to pay off the immense debt incurred by the sins of humanity. It is a doctrine with next to no basis in the NT, in the Fathers of the Church, or even among great theologians such as Anselm and Aquinas whose theories of satisfaction it distorts."

Re: "It is a doctrine with next to no basis in the NT, in the Fathers of the Church, or even among great theologians such as Anselm and Aquinas whose theories of satisfaction it distorts.Then how did such an error achieve wide currency at least in the church I grew up in, and among so many others? We didn't make it up ourselves but I believe were carefully taught.Yes, Bill: "a current of the Irish guilt, blame, and scrupulosity that impacted tens of thousands of Catholics. It also built a mindset in which clericalism and a top down church ruled supreme."I have been reading about the Irish government report on the Magdalen laundries released this week. I also think of all the industrial schools and church-run institutions marked by cruelty, abuse and deep shaming, especially of sexuality. What a legacy. What part of this was impacted by the experience of the famine? Such toxic spirituality.

Back to the focus of the thread: It would be the most welcome news if Mahony, Curry et al could be criminally prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced to prison. The SOL is probably expired in all cases, but can it be suspended where fraud was the cause of non-reporting? A conspiracy to conceal?Or a window voted this time to allow prosecution of enablers?Something!

Carolyn --I've thought for a long time that sometimes the sin/crime of enabling abuse by a person in his right mind is much worse than the subjective guild of a mentally and emotionally deficient abuser. Further, the cover-ups are not single acts that are over and done with in an hour. They are continuing acts. Surely there must be some way to prosecute the enablers in spite of the SOL because the crime is a continuing one. The enabling crimes are analogous to depriving someone of a debt that is owed -- they don't happen in a smAll period of time like, say, an armed robbrery, but, rather, continue in time, so the statue of limitations should not apply in the same way that, say, an armed robbery would be covered.

Eloquent, Ann; straightforward and on the mark. Yes, "continue in time."Perhaps it's the continuing "culture of mendacity" that is so damaging. The lack of truth-telling by bishops about their records is an open sore. The on-going spin is disgusting. Finn doesn't consider himself guilty of anything, as he privately admitted. Law in his palazzo in Rome, McCormack in his $700K plus condo on the Merrimack river, NH's Francis Christian...well, the list is endless of those men's "mistakes and poor judgment" which I maintain are really crimes of criminal endangerment, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Such is the face of institutional religion.

I share Carolyn Disco's distress that something should be done in the wake of revelations that Roger Mahony was at the fulcrum of a wide-ranging cover-up of child rape and sodomy of children by LA archdiocesan priests. However, justice in America is only for those that can afford it. The Catholic hierarchy has literally $billions to waste on the defense of the indefensible. [Case in point: Robert Finn is still bishop of Kansas City despite pleading guilty to child endangerment!] As much as I would like to see it, I'm not holding my breath that Roger Mahony and his co-conspirators will ever face real justice for what they have done.However, I am heartened by the changing tone I see in the media since the LA document revelations became public. Frank Bruni writing in the NY Times really nailed the hierarchs for their moral vacuity: A. Olivas wrote a devastating piece, again in the NY Times (2/7/13), that reveal the sharp tip of the knife pointed at the heart of the power American hierarchs have over especially the Latino Catholic community here in the us: yesterday, Ray Suarez interview one of the lead attorneys, Ray Boucher, who has represented survivors of the sexual abuse from LA archdiocesan priests. It was very sobering to hear Boucher predict that many "thousands" of stories of abuse survivors have yet to come forward: yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition, Joelle Casteix [Southern CA SNAP leader], herself a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a LA priest, opined that the slap on the wrist of Roger Mahony by his successor archbishop Jose Gomez amounted to "taking away Mahony's key to the executive rest room." [Sorry, but I couldn't find the link - you'll have to trust me on the quote.]While not a satisfying as seeing Mahony and his buddies in the hierarchy being frog-marched off to jail, the accumulative effect of this kind of media attention will, drip by drip, further erode the political power of the hierarchs within the Catholic community, especially here in the US.This is going to be a long hard slog for Catholics to rid themselves of their corrupt and complicit hierarchs and clergy. The hierarchs have salted away literally $billions for their legal defense as they circle the political, theological and ecclesiastical wagons - for about the next century or so when they hope there won't be anyone around who remembers their shameful abuse.Catholics will need to be resourceful and cunning if our Catholic faith, culture and practice is to even survive. I find my solace in the admonition of my sainted sixth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide: "Christianity is not for sissies!"The key will be to separate the hierarchs from the money, or at least to dry up all their cash flow streams, until the full effects of Catholics denying the hierarchs the one commodity that their money can't buy, and which they desperately need to self-perpetuate: Our sons!

Jim, one correction from Joelle."Corrections By Joelle CasteixThe Worthy AdversaryFebruary 6, 2013 AP photo went out today saying that I am a victim of Fr. Michael Baker. I am not. Other stories have gone out this week saying that I am the victim of abuse by a priest.Both statements are incorrect. I have alerted all media outlets to the mistake.I am a victim of abuse in the Catholic Church by a lay teacher, Thomas Hodgman, who admitted to abusing me and other girls. Do read the documents. Despite a confession and settlement, Hodgman is teaching at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. "Adrian College officials have known that Thomas Hodgman was an admitted predator since 2003, yet, they support him and have allowed him to keep his job. They have not warned parents, students or the general community of the risk."Go figure.

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