Cardinal Roger Mahony, victims speak out on clergy abuse
Friday, February 01, 2013
By Carlos Granda, Sid Garcia and Rudabeh Shahbazi
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Cardinal Roger Mahony is speaking out after being stripped of all public duties, while victims are speaking out about the release of the clergy abuse files.
On Thursday, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement that Mahony no longer had any administrative or public duties. Mahony said in a letter posted on his blog, “Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.”
Documents released two weeks ago showed that in the 1980s, Mahony and others tried to hide some of the sexual abuse cases. Mahony says he dealt with priests accused of molesting children by removing them from parishs and shipping them off to treatment centers. He said that’s what diocese across the country did back then.
“While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed,” Mahony said. “Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an Archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.”
Esther Miller was 16 when she says Father Michael Nocita first sexually abused her. She says she attempted suicide the following year.
“I’m not a practicing Catholic. I’ll never go back to this cult ever,” Miller said.
Miller is angry that church documents show Nocita had a number of incidents in the 1980s and 1990s. On Friday, Miller and other members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a news conference to talk about the newly released church documents. The documents are supposed to show the names of anyone who knew about the abuse and those who allegedly covered it up. But they say a number of names are still not there.
“This is nonsense. These people have spent millions upon millions of the faithful’s dollars to protect themselves,” said Jim Robertson of SNAP. “They fought the release of any documents all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and still, they’re not giving us the right.”
Gomez has accepted Auxillary Bishop Thomas Curry’s request to be relieved of his responsibility as Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara. Curry has apologized for his decisions while serving as Vicar for Clergy. Both Mahony and Curry are still bishops in good standing.
“It sends a message to all of the clergy if the highest ranking members are publicly condemned,” said Anthony DeMarco, attorney for the victims. “It’s taken an awful long time.”
To see the clergy files, visit http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org/listing.html.
After rebuke by archbishop, Cardinal Mahony takes higher profile
Stripped of public duties by Archbishop Jose Gomez over mishandling of clergy sex abuse cases, Mahony has begun what some call a rehabilitation tour.
Editorial: Sex abuse accountability should be universal law
Apr. 25, 2013|
In late February, Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna told Italian journalists, “From now on, no one” — and when he said “no one” he meant the 117 cardinals coming to Rome for the conclave that would elect Pope Francis — “will be able to say they know nothing about what goes on regarding clerical sex abuse.” Efforts begun by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and continued by Pope Benedict XVI are “now a fundamental part of the church’s response to sex abuse,” Scicluna said. “It will be part of the leadership program of whoever is elected in the Sistine Chapel.”
Scicluna, of course, is more than an auxiliary bishop from Malta. He was the prosecutor handling sex abuse cases for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 10 years until he was made a bishop last year. He, under the leadership of Ratzinger as the doctrinal congregation’s prefect, deserves credit for breaking the ecclesial logjam and beginning to move effectively against clergy who had abused children.
As we sort through Benedict’s pontificate and his more than three-decades-long legacy at the top of the church hierarchy, it would be wrong to too easily dismiss what Benedict did to protect children from clergy sex abusers. This does not mean his record is blemish-free or that we agree entirely with the processes used by bishops and the Curia to handle cases of abuse brought against clergy. But there can be no doubt that the church and her children would be in a far worse position if Benedict had not taken control of these cases in 2002.
Chicago Cardinal Francis George acknowledged this in interviews he did before the conclave. “Whoever is elected pope … he obviously has to accept the universal law of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who’s ever abused a minor child.”
This seems to be a milestone for the church on this issue and a time for people who have long fought for it to be addressed to declare at least a small victory.
Scicluna concluded his interview saying that the “sore spots” in the church today are violations of the sixth and seventh commandments: sins against purity and theft. “We need to go back to the Gospel,” he said. “Whoever is elected pope will have to continue Ratzinger’s ‘purification’ work.”
Which brings us to Francis and what could be the next phase in the Catholic church’s struggle with this issue. Within days of the new pope’s election, his record of handling clergy sex abuse as archbishop of Buenos Aires was called into question. Our senior correspondent, John Allen, looked into these allegations during his recent trip to Argentina. Allen’s reporting indicates that apparently Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio handled cases of clergy sex abuse as any reasonable, cautious church leader of his generation would. We would suspect that he went through a learning process while acting within the constraints of civil and canon law.
To understand what his next steps as pope should be, it is helpful to know the circumstances under which Scicluna was being interviewed. The former prosecutor was being asked whether U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony should attend and vote in the conclave. Just weeks before, the Los Angeles archdiocese had finally complied with a court order to release tens of thousands of documents that clearly showed Mahony and his lieutenants shuffling abuser priests from parish to parish, hiding their whereabouts from law enforcement and discussing legal strategies to keep abusers and the archdiocese safe from prosecution. The release of those documents was enough to cause the current archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, to restrict Mahony from official archdiocesan duties. Mahony fought back with his personal blog, his Twitter account and his media savvy. He used his red hat to pull rank and forced Gomez to backpedal. Gomez declared that Mahony was still a priest and bishop in good standing. After hundreds of lives had been damaged and millions of dollars spent on futile legal delaying tactics, Mahony blithely boarded a plane for Rome, claiming a right to elect the new pope. Where is the justice in that?
Scicluna said the question of whether Mahony should join the conclave or not was a matter for the cardinal himself, a challenge for him to follow his conscience.
Mahony is Exhibit A for what Francis must do in the next phase of this crisis. It is no longer about frontline defense to protect children and remove offenders. The next phase of the crisis is all about accountability, the accountability of church leaders, bishops and chancery personnel who obstruct investigations or cover up crimes.
To date, the sex abuse crisis has been massively disruptive of the lives of priests and laypeople, but it has not made a huge difference in the lives of bishops because they have yet to be called to account. The Dallas Charter that can remove a priest or deacon from active ministry with one accusation of abuse is voluntary for bishops. Bishops in Lincoln, Neb., and Baker, Ore., have proven that, as have the leaders of seven Eastern rite eparchies in the United States who have never submitted to the charter. The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., found guilty in two civil jurisdictions for failure to report suspected child abuse, remains in office.
Zero tolerance for clergy child abusers is now the universal law of the church. Francis’ task is to lay down laws that will hold bishops liable for their actions and inactions, too. Bishops’ accountability to the people they serve must also become the universal law of the church.
Cardinal Mahony Defends Record in Italian Paper
From the link: http://ktla.com/2013/03/06/cardinal-mahony-defends-his-record-in-italian-newspaper-article/#axzz2Ms54eR62
VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles staunchly defended his record on dealing with sexual abuse in the church in an interview published by an Italian newspaper Tuesday.
Mahony, who has been criticized for moving predator priests from posting to posting, told Corriere della Sera that “after 20 years, people are talking about abuse as if we had not done anything. However, since 2002, we have had our program Protecting the Children, in which we illustrate procedures and the guidelines of our zero-tolerance policy that allows no possibility, for example, of anyone found guilty of abuse of minors working for the diocese.”
Mahony, who in recent months has refused requests for interviews with the Los Angeles Times, was publicly rebuked in February by current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in connection with his handling of sexual abuse cases.
The cardinal, who is in Rome ahead of the conclave to elect the successor to former Pope Benedict XVI, described to the Italian paper his approach to abuse in earlier years, saying: “I had not understood the real nature of the problem, that people who commit abuse — not only in the church — continue to commit their crimes. These things were not so well understood then as they are now.
“Anyone who looks at the psychiatric and psychological literature then will see that I applied the professional approach suggested for all institutions. We tried to follow the best practices of the period.”
Mahony said he subsequently set about building a network of safeguards against abuse, including the hiring in 1994 of a retired judge to head a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board for the Los Angeles archdiocese.
“My rather painful mistake was to not apply the work of that committee to previous cases. I was more focused on new cases. However, that was an error I completely rectified in 2002,” Mahony said.
Mahony said that after a meeting of bishops in Dallas that year, he hired ex-FBI agents to investigate abuse accusations, and instituted background checks on applicants to work with children in church institutions. Fingerprinting had been undertaken for a decade, he added.
He said he would be seeking to share his experience of tackling abuse with fellow cardinals attending the conclave.
–Los Angeles Times