Grant Gallicho May 10, 2013 - 11:34am
Remember how in January, after nearly a decade of legal filibustering, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles finally made public the priest-personnel files it agreed to release as part of a 2007 settlement with abuse victims, except the files were heavily redacted, and remember how those files contained damning memos detailing the lengths to which archdiocesan officials -- including Cardinal Roger Mahony -- went to shield abuser-priests from civil authorities, and how soon after those memos made news, Archbishop Jose Gomez garnered praise for announcing that Mahony would "no longer have any administrative or public duties," and how several media outlets reported that Mahony had been "barred from public ministry," except he really hadn't, and then he took to his blog to dress down Gomez for "not once over these past years...[raising] any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors," yet, as Mahony's then-spokesman explained, he had "cleared his calendar" of confirmation appointments this year? Well, he's doing them again. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Since Easter, he has officiated at eight services, including one last week in which he anointed more than 120 youths at a Wilmington parish. His presence has caused controversy, with some parents threatening to pull their children from the liturgies and at least one parish priest asking that Mahony not attend. It has also raised questions about why Gomez's rebuke of Mahony, an unprecedented move that won him praise from victims and their supporters around the world, had so little lasting effect.
You don't say. Gomez's letter did not include anything specific about the alleged change in Mahony's status. And, as an archbishop, Gomez does not have the authority to restrict the ministry of a cardinal. (Only a pope can do that.) But he does have the authority to say who presides over confirmations in the archdiocese. Have a look at the letter. Sorry, is that link broken? It seems the letter is no longer available on the website of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (The L.A. Times cached a copy here.) Odd that the archdiocese's archive of press releases includes a January 22 apology from auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who played a part in archdiocesan efforts to conceal accused priests from the law (and who really did cancel confirmations this spring), along with Gomez's statement on the release of the priest-personnel files, dated January 31 -- the same date on his statement on Mahony. Did that document disappear down the memory hole?
Perhaps amnesia is going around the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. When an L.A. Times reporter approached Mahony after a confirmation he presided over, the cardinal claimed he didn't know that his former spokesman had said he was done doing confirmations for the year: "'That's news to me.... I've been doing them every week and I'm going to be doing them every week,' he said, adding, 'So go home.'"
Strange that Mahony would be so confused, considering the pains he took to defend himself after Gomez published the letter promising that the cardinal would no longer have any public duties. Certainly the cardinal could not be surprised that some parents would not be pleased to have him confirm their children -- not after his series of blog posts cataloging his Lenten challenge to love his enemies, which, oddly, included a meditation on the virtue of remaining silent in the face of false accusations, and a promise to pray for God to forgive those who have expressed anger over his role in the sexual-abuse scandal.
Evidently the cardinal feels he's been unfairly treated by the media, but if his rehabilitation tour is to have any chance of success, he's going to have to start answering some tough questions. He might start with these: Why did you work so hard to block the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops-commissioned investigation of the sexual-abuse scandal, and why, long after the church knew of the dangers posed by abusive priests, did you attempt to hide accused priests from civil authorities? Was it about church resources? Money? If so, why was that more important than justice for victims of sexual abuse -- and the safety of children?