LA Cardinal Mahony 'stripped of duties' over sex abuse


#1

LA Cardinal Mahony ‘stripped of duties’ over sex abuse


2/1/13

A retired Los Angeles cardinal accused of mismanaging a child sex abuse crisis has been stripped of all administrative and public duties by his successor.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Archbishop Gomez said in a statement. "The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil.

“There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”

He added that Bishop Thomas Curry, former vicar of the clergy who handled the cases of accused priests, had stepped down from his post as bishop of Santa Barbara.

I’ve criticized for years the MSM’s feeding frenzy about sex predator priests and the cover-ups in the Catholic Church. My problem is not that the story is covered - the predators and their enablers deserve every bit of exposure and reviling they’ve received, and probably more. Part of my problem is that the MSM has broad-broom smeared a lot of good and decent priests and people. The other large part is the MSM’s double-standard. The MSM hate the Catholic Church, but love public schools, teacher’s unions and teachers to a degree that a much larger and more pervasive predation-and-cover-up story (sex abuse by teachers who are transferred or kept in “rubber rooms” at full salary and bennies) is receiving CYA-grade token coverage. The MSM have been and are part of the predator-enabling cover-up! While cloaking their hatred and lashing out at the Catholic Church in a partially phony (and partially real) “concern” for priest sex abuse victims.

As for these two enablers, GOOD RIDDANCE!!! Should have been done years ago!!!


#2

The problem with comparing public schools and the Catholic Church is that there is evidence that often in the Catholic Church knowledge of child abuse is widespread and goes all the way up sometimes to the Pope. Public schools don’t really do that. Often the cover ups are confined to one school or even a few people. Plus they don’t happen nearly as often. It’s the difference between a couple of people not wanting to tell anyone and a massive organization getting involved in a massive cover up.

Plus, this isn’t even true. The mainstream media comes down hard on schools when they cover up sex abuse cases. Remember Sandusky and Penn State?


#3

Plus there’s an appeal to the church story. The Church is supposed to be a moral authority, and yet they have sex abuse scandals. It makes for good ratings on the news channels.


#4

Public schools don’t really do that. Often the cover ups are confined to one school or even a few people. Plus they don’t happen nearly as often. It’s the difference between a couple of people not wanting to tell anyone and a massive organization getting involved in a massive cover up.

Trekky, the NYC school system and the LAUSD are among, if not the, largest school districts in the nation. They aren’t small fry. And it is school district high-level educrats who transfer abusers or exile them to “rubber rooms” while declining to fire them, not local principals. Far more - numerically and in scope - than “a couple of people”.

The Church is supposed to be a moral authority …

That’s a good reason for covering the problem in the Catholic Church. And I made a point of saying, “the predators and their enablers deserve every bit of exposure and reviling they’ve received, and probably more.” But do schools carry much less of a moral authority image in society? For example, a couple of the “significant” objections to homeschooling (put forward by people who imagine homeschooled children are kept in near-total isolation) are “socialization” and citizenship which PSs supposedly teach. Pols and “educators” require (or at least try to) PSs to teach all manner of of public “morals” - from anti-racism to anti-sexism to sex “education” to anti-homophobia.

Plus, this isn’t even true. The mainstream media comes down hard on schools when they cover up sex abuse cases. Remember Sandusky and Penn State?

I’ll give you Sandusky, partly. One man, one story, national coverage: where are the hundreds and thousands of other stories - the national MSM feeding frenzy - about the similar hundreds and thousands of educators who did as Sandusky did? Sandusky falls under the category I pointed out in my OP: “CYA-grade token coverage”. And applying your comment above, it sold papers and grabbed viewers. Unless you are willing to assert the absurdity that this kind of abuse-and-cover-up only happens in NYC and LA (school systems that have receive a little coverage), teacher abuse-and-cover-up in PSs is a national scandal waiting and threatening to burst beyond MSM tokenism-minimization. Sandusky was a useful pressure-relief valve … for a time.


#5

@Pete

Trekky, the NYC school system and the LAUSD are among, if not the, largest school districts in the nation. They aren’t small fry. And it is school district high-level educrats who transfer abusers or exile them to “rubber rooms” while declining to fire them, not local principals. Far more - numerically and in scope - than “a couple of people”.

Pete…the rubber rooms in NYC are the result of UNION policies which make it impossible to fire a teacher. They get moved out of the classroom where they can’t do any damage.** THAT does not protect them from getting arrested and prosecuted by the police for unlawful behavior. ** This is QUITE a bit different than what has happened in some places within the Catholic Church. I am not aware of any significant problem with school administrations covering up for predators and leaving them on the job.
BTW…I am NOT a critic of the Catholic Church in this regard. It is a huge organization with unique “employee/employer” relationships and the problems are relatively small overall. It seems to me that the impetus to cover up to protect the church is being dealt with now in a more effective manner.


#6

Pete…the rubber rooms in NYC are the result of UNION policies which make it impossible to fire a teacher.

Focusing that statement a bit, the “rubber rooms” are the result of contract work rules negotiated and signed by union officials and school system officials. I’ve heard principals complaining of the near impossibility of firing incompetent (and worse) teachers. I’ve not heard a peep of school system educrats trying to change work rules about the firing process, let alone actually make those rules an issue in contract negotiations. Unions use local and national MSM to good effect (from their POV) to portray budget-minded school adminicrats as being heartless whenever benefit changes are a contract issue, but I don’t think the union leaders will find quite the same public sympathy when the issue is schools wanting to be able to fire incompetents and abusers.

When it comes to budgetary matters, school adminicrats have bought “labor peace” at taxpayer expense; when it comes to incompetent or abusive teachers, school adminicrats have bought “labor peace” at student expense.

This scandal wasn’t just a network of mutually enabling abuser-priests. The cover-ups and abuser-transfers were handled at the diocesan level. Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals (not exactly small fry in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church) knew at least enough to know criminals were being shielded and parishioners’ children were being endangered. There was/is a problem at the institutional level. And I’m not anti-Catholic. Though less public (and possibly somewhat less in scope), at least some Baptist conferences/associations (for example, not uniquely) have problems with abusive pastors being able to move from congregation to congregation due to those groups’ non-centralized authority and informal communications structures. It’s not the same as transferring known abusers to an unsuspecting congregation, but it is still a structural failure to protect members’ children (and I’ve heard of major Baptist conventions/associations making changes to make it difficult for abusers to move on to a new target venue).

I “get” the HR type issues in an institution that really doesn’t have the equivalent of an HR department. I’m aware the Catholic Church has been going through several decades of difficulty with a shrinking priesthood. I “get” that such institutions don’t like the embarrassment of having to hand over a leader to civil authorities for sex abuse. I’m very aware that the Catholic Church perceives itself as under gnat-straining hostile scrutiny from some Protestants, some activist groups and some government officials (elected and bureaucrats).

All that stipulated, an institution claiming the moral authority the Catholic Church (or Episcopalian, or Baptist, or …) does has to be vigilant and prepared to deal swiftly and decisively with leaders egregiously (and criminally) violating the institution’s moral standards. Otherwise the standards become a deserved object of mockery - among the general public (whom the Church is supposed to be attracting into its fold) and among members. And even the most image-conscious member of the upper hierarchy should have enough basic common sense to realize that the scandal of decades of cover-up being exposed would be devastatingly more embarrassing, expensive and image-destroying than whatever might have come from dealing with abusers properly and decisively (over time, the “consequence” might have been an image of practicing what they preach and would-be abusers looking for easier venues for their evil intent).


#7

Focusing that statement a bit, the “rubber rooms” are the result of contract work rules negotiated and signed by union officials and school system officials. I’ve heard principals complaining of the near impossibility of firing incompetent (and worse) teachers. I’ve not heard a peep of school system educrats trying to change work rules about the firing process, let alone actually make those rules an issue in contract negotiations. Unions use local and national MSM to good effect (from their POV) to portray budget-minded school adminicrats as being heartless whenever benefit changes are a contract issue, but I don’t think the union leaders will find quite the same public sympathy when the issue is schools wanting to be able to fire incompetents and abusers.

When it comes to budgetary matters, school adminicrats have bought “labor peace” at taxpayer expense; when it comes to incompetent or abusive teachers, school adminicrats have bought “labor peace” at student expense.

No doubt…adminicrats have been enablers of the present situation with regard to the ability to fire teachers…but the impetus for the protections has always been the Unions…and the impossibility of firing remains a UNION issue. I note the efforts of former NYC chancellor Joel Klein to end just some of the madness and the pushback he got from the Unions and their political enablers was incredible. Joel Klein vs. New York City teachers : The New Yorker
As to the Catholic Church…you’ve described the history well & I agree.


#8

As a practicing Catholic, I believe that anyone–including priests and bishops–should be held accountable for any direct abuse or indirect protection of abusers. Having said that, there is no question that the msm hates the Catholic Church. I can’t remember a movie or a TV program that ever portrayed the Catholic Church, priests, nuns, or anyone else in the Church in a positive light. Yet, there are thousands of faithful Catholic priests, nuns, and others who, without fanfare, go about working in God’s vineyard for the good of humanity.

The msm hates Christians, but reserves its vilest hatred for the Catholic Church. I’m not sure why that is, but it has been going on for decades and is getting worse. This is not something new. This has been going on since the Apostles, and Nero using the first Christians as human torches in the circus arena.


#9

The msm hates Christians, but reserves its vilest hatred for the Catholic Church. I’m not sure why that is, but it has been going on for decades and is getting worse. This is not something new. This has been going on since the Apostles, and Nero using the first Christians as human torches in the circus arena.

I’m not so sure re the first sentence I quoted. “Fundamentalist” is an epithet in MSM-speak. And I’m not sure the MSM hate Evangelicals (of the non-Ron Sider, non-Jim Wallis flavor) less than Catholics. But we’re all in the same ballpark and the same part thereof where MSM hatred/disdain is concerned. I think we need to get used to that fact and work with open eyes. Also, I think Nero used Christians as torches for outdoor dinner parties rather than in the Coliseum or Circus Maximus.

As an irrelevant side comment, the Roman emperors who reigned during Paul’s lifetime are an interesting context for Romans 13.


#10

If you have occasion to do so, you might try a classical old black-and-white movie from the '60s called Lilies of the Field. It’s the story of a black guy who happened by a nunnery in the desert southwest and stopped to ask for some water for his car’s radiator. He ended up sticking around to repair some things for them, and ultimately to build a church building (with the eventual help of some local hispanics). It’s a good family-friendly movie; the most objectionable thing in that regard was when the black guy lost his temper with the Mother Superior and said “dammit!” She was shocked, then solemnly praying for him…

They later did a color sort-of sequel Christmas Lilies of the Field. I liked the original better.


#11

“I built the chappell, you built the chappell!!” Yes, I’ve seen this wonderful movie many times! There’s another, less known, movie that you can’t get on DVD or VHS. It’s entitled, “Conspiracy of Hearts” (you can actually see it on youtube) about how a bunch of Catholic nuns hide a bunch of Jewish children rescued from one of the death camps (not sure where this is supposed to be located) risking their lives to save these children. I think it might be based on a true story, but not sure.

Also, I was referring to movies and TV shows that have been made in the last 20+ years. There used to be a program on TV that involved a Catholic priest and a sidekick nun who solved murders…can’t remember the name of it, but it was one of the few positive TV portrayals of Catholics.


#12

It isn’t TV or Catholic, but I’m reminded of a recent small series of radio dramas done by Focus on the Family called The Father Gilbert Mysteries. Father Gilbert is an Anglican priest who used to work for Scotland Yard. I remember an exchange that he had when questioning his father (who was in town with an acting troupe) about some past activities. It went something like this:

GILBERT’S DAD: There you go again! Why do you always think I’m in trouble?!
FATHER GILBERT (tiredly and without missing a beat): Because you’re always in trouble…

Or this one from a different episode.

FATHER GILBERT: Hand me the torch.
AMERICAN WOMAN: Huh?
FATHER GILBERT (irritated): The flashlight!


#13

I am very familiar with Focus on the Family and greatly support and admire its founder and mission. And I love British humor! Is that series still on? I wish I would have known about it! There used to be a British sitcom called “Bless me Father” that was very funny. Of course, my favorite British comedy has always been “Keeping Up Appearances” followed with “Are You Being Served?” The old Mr. Bean shows were great, too.


#14

And it goes higher than that. The Catholic Church, for many years, has instituted a worldwide policy regarding sex abuse. One of the things priests are required to do whenever a victim comes to them with a story of abuse is to swear the victim to silence, using the seal of confession. There is nothing comparable to that in the public school system. And the man whose responsibility it was to enforce that practice for 20 years is none other than the current Pope.


#15

I’m only able to comment briefly, and have only been able to see part of the Wikipedia article you linked (a time issue, not a problem with the article), but the circumstance to which that policy applied seems to be much more narrow than you represent, Caudi. But I’ll have to check out the particulars later, maybe the “devil’s in the details”.


#16

Actually, the Wiki article is somewhat scrubbed and obtuse, something that happens with controversial subjects. But some relevant portions:

As, assuredly, what must be mainly taken care of and complied with in handling these trials is that they be managed with maximum confidentiality and after the verdict is declared and put into effect never be mentioned again (20 February 1867 Instruction of the Holy Office, 14), each and every person, who in any way belongs to the tribunal or is given knowledge of the matter because of their office, is obliged to keep inviolate the strictest secrecy (what is commonly called “the secrecy of the Holy Office”) in all things and with all persons, under pain of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, incurred ipso facto without need of any declaration other than the present one, and reserved to the Supreme Pontiff in person alone, excluding even the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Unless violation of secrecy occurred after an explicit procedural warning given in the course of their examination (Section 13; and cf. Section 23 concerning the person denouncing solicitation: "… before the person is dismissed, there should be presented to the person, as above, an oath of observing the secret, threatening the person, if there is a need, with an excommunication reserved to the Ordinary or to the Holy See"), no ecclesiastical penalties were to be imposed on the accuser(s) and witnesses.

If you told a priest that another priest molested you, the first thing he was required to do was to make you swear an oath of secrecy under the threat of excommunication. That’s why it took so long for these stories to start coming out. A brief documentary on the subject:

What I’m saying is that there is really no comparison with sex abuse in public schools. The Department of Education does not make students swear not to tell anyone they were raped, they do not have a policy of moving rapist priests to other countries, etc. If it did, people would be rightly outraged. But it’s a very different phenomenon.


#17

Focus on the Family Radio Theater is on every week on participating stations. They run all kinds of radio dramas. The Father Gilbert Mysteries is one of the few modern series. They’ve done things like The Chronicles of Narnia, Ben Hur, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, The Secret Garden, The Hiding Place, Bonhoffer, a drama series about how the book of the New Testament came to be called The Luke Reports, and with the movie out, they’re currently reruning Les Miserables. Each installment is a half-hour segment, and almost all of their stuff is multi-part. I think I’ve heard like five stories in The Father Gilbert Mysteries. Most of the stuff FoF Radio Theater does is family-friendly; for the exceptions, they give warning at the beginning. One of the Father Gilberts was pretty intense.

As British TV sitcoms go, I like Good Neighbors, As Time Goes By, Yes, Minister, and its sequel series Yes, Prime Minister. The latter two were refreshingly conservative for a British political comedy. I’m afraid I couldn’t stomach Keeping Up Appearances… :awkward:


#18

I think you’ve misunderstood the article, Caudi. The oath to secrecy was part of a Canon Law Court trial of the accused. The oath was administered by that court, not by the priest(s) receiving the initial accusation(s), did not preclude concurrent reporting, etc., to civil authorities (which, obviously, could lead to a criminal investigation and prosecution), and some aspects lasted only for the duration of the trial.

Some of the article relevant to my preceding comment:

Section 11 of Crimen sollicitationis outlines the required confidentiality of the investigation into accusations of the crime of solicitation. The document imposed absolute confidentiality on the trial’s proceedings (explicitly excepting “what may happen to be lawfully published when this process is concluded and put into effect”, the term, “published,” meaning “publication of the evidence” in Canon Law, or the conclusion of the “discovery phase” in a civil trial, before the verdict is rendered), both during its conduct and after any concluding verdict had been put into effect:

Interviewed for a television programme in 2006, canon lawyer Thomas Doyle described the tight secrecy demanded for the procedure as “an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen”.[15] However, in the study of the instruction that he revised less than two years later he stated: “According to the 1922 and 1962 documents, accusers and witnesses are bound by the secrecy obligation during and after the process but certainly not prior to the initiation of the process. There is no basis to assume that the Holy See envisioned this process to be a substitute for any secular legal process, criminal or civil. It is also incorrect to assume, as some have unfortunately done, that these two Vatican documents are proof of a conspiracy to hide sexually abusive priests or to prevent the disclosure of sexual crimes committed by clerics to secular authorities.”[16] He also remarked: “To fully understand the overriding concern for secrecy one must also understand the traditional canonical concept known as the ‘Privilege of the Forum’ privilegium fori which has its roots in medieval Canon Law. Basically this is a traditional privilege claimed by the institutional church whereby clerics accused of crimes were tried before ecclesiastical courts and not brought before civil or secular courts. Although this privilege is anachronistic in contemporary society, the attitude or mentality which holds clerics accountable only to the institutional church authorities is still active. This does not mean that the official Church believes that clerics accused of crimes should not to be held accountable. It means that during certain periods in history the Church has believed that it alone should have the right to subject accused clerics to a judicial process.”[17]

John L. Allen, Jr. has said the secrecy was aimed rather at the protection of all involved, the accused, the victim/denouncer and the witnesses, before the verdict was passed, and for free finding of facts.[18]

There are a lot of aspects to this that are alien to US citizens familiar with the US court systems. It embodied (it became advisory in 1983 and was replaced in 2001, IIRC) elements from centuries of Roman, Medieval and European legal thought. It was different, and was doubtless exploited and misused … much as our modern legal system can be and too often is.

Let me stipulate that this policy was used to shield abusers. Let me further stipulate that there is no equivalent document among educators. So what? Catholic Church officials have shielded abusers; public school system officials have shielded abusers. How are either substantially different from the POV of the abused and the endangered?


#19

It’s different because while public school officials have shielded abusers, in the Church, abuse victims can see the crime as part of an endemic pattern of abuse and coverup that goes to the top of the organization.

“Endemic” is the word used by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009), which found sex abuse was endemic to Irish Catholic boys’ homes. You can read that and other conclusions here: Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse | Volume IV - Chapter 6

It’s also different because the Church is a single organization, unlike public school, and it has a long history of protecting rapists, refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, conducting secret trials, moving known rapists around from country to country, helping them escape extradition by sheltering them in the Vatican, and in some cases, even reinstating rapist priests who were defrocked after they “repented”, whereupon those same priests go on to rape again (see Tony Wash).

Just recently, one of the Pope’s own personal staff (one of the Holy Gentlemen) was arrested in connection with a Vatican City child prostitution ring. The public school equivalent would be if it were discovered that a child prostitution ring were being run out of the Department of Education building in DC, in the very presence of the Secretary of Education. It just isn’t comparable.