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Cardinal Roger Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog


Cardinal Roger Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog

2/2/13 By Gillian Flaccus

From the link: http://news.msn.com/us/cardinal-defends-legacy-on-church-abuse-in-blog

Cardinal Roger Mahony

Cardinal Roger Mahony

On his blog on Friday, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony said he was ill-equipped to deal with sexually abusive clergy when he took over the archdiocese in 1985 and quickly sought to develop policies and consult with leaders in other dioceses.

LOS ANGELES — The public rebuke of retired Cardinal Roger Mahony for failing to take swift action against abusive priests adds tarnish to a career already overshadowed by the church sex abuse scandal but does little to change his role in the larger church.

Mahony can still act as a priest, keep his rank as cardinal and remain on a critical Vatican panel that elects the next pope.

While Archbishop Jose Gomez’s decision to strip Mahony of his administrative and public duties was unprecedented in the American Roman Catholic Church, it was another attempt by the church to accept responsibility for the abuse scandal that has engulfed it.

Victims were quick to point out that Mahony’s new, paired-down local standing was in stark contrast to his continued position among the prelates at the Vatican.

The decision “is little more than window dressing. Cardinal Mahony is still a very powerful prelate,” Joelle Casteix, the Western regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said at a Friday news conference outside the Los Angeles cathedral. “He’s a very powerful man in Rome and still a very powerful man in Los Angeles.”

The Vatican declined to comment Friday when asked if the Holy See would follow Gomez’s lead and take action against Mahony.

Tod Tamberg, the archdiocese spokesman, said Mahony was in Rome several weeks ago for meetings unrelated to Thursday’s announcement. He said he did not know if Pope Benedict XVI was aware of Gomez’s announcement.

The cardinal and Gomez both declined interview requests from The Associated Press.

In a letter to Gomez posted on Mahony’s blog Friday, the cardinal said he was ill-equipped to deal with sexually abusive clergy when he took over the archdiocese in 1985 and quickly sought to develop policies and consult with church leaders in other dioceses. He reminded Gomez that he was well aware when he took over in 2011 of the steps Mahony had taken to safeguard children.

“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. I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s,” he wrote.

“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.”

Gomez’s public criticism is almost unheard-of in the highly structured church institution and would have been cleared by the Vatican in advance, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who worked for the Vatican’s Washington, D.C., embassy.

“He’s an archbishop — he cannot order a cardinal around,” said Doyle, who co-authored a 1985 report warning of a coming clergy sex abuse scandal. “The Catholic church is a monarchy. If you’re one of the princes of the realm and you’re a duke, you don’t dump on a prince without the king’s permission or you’re no longer a duke. That’s what the deal is.”

Gomez went as far as he could within this authority, but only the Pope has the power to sanction a cardinal or laicize him, he said.

Gomez made the announcement Thursday as the church was forced by a court order to turn over thousands of pages of confidential priest personnel files after a bruising, five-year legal fight. The archbishop also accepted a resignation request from one of Mahony’s top aides, now-Bishop Thomas Curry.

The move came two weeks after other long-secret priest personnel records showed Mahony and Curry, in particular, worked behind the scenes to protect the church from the engulfing scandal.

Mahony is a member of three Vatican departments, including the Holy See’s all-important economic affairs office, and he remains a member of the College of Cardinals. At 76, he is still eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

The Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, Bishop Charles Scicluna, has said Canon Law provides for sanctioning bishops who show “malicious or fraudulent negligence” in their work, but has acknowledged that such laws have never been applied in the case of bishops who covered up sex abuse cases.

In the past, lower-ranking members of the church hierarchy who have spoken out about their superior’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis have been rebuked by the Holy See.

In 2010, for example, Viennese Cardinal Cristoph Schoenborn criticized the former Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in an interview for his handling of a notorious sex abuse case. Schoenborn didn’t use Sodano’s name in his critique, but was nonetheless forced to come to Rome to explain himself to the pope and Sodano.

The Vatican publicly rebuked Schoenborn, saying that only the pope has authority to deal with accusations against a cardinal.

The Vatican’s silence after Thursday’s announcement indicates they were aware of it, said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk and priest and vocal church critic who consults on clergy abuse cases.

“Gomez was as brilliant as a sniper the way he orchestrated this because he did not overstep his authority against the Pope and yet at the same time it appears that some type of penalty is being imposed,” said Wall. “He cannot force Mahony to resign. It’s brilliant and this has never happened in the U.S.”

Mahony will reduce his public appearances, including numerous guest lectures nationwide on immigration reform, and no longer perform confirmations, Tamberg said. However, he remains a priest in good standing and will continue to live in a North Hollywood parish and can celebrate the sacraments with no restrictions, he said.

Several of the documents in the newly released files echo recurring themes that emerged over the past decade in dioceses nationwide, where church leaders moved problem priests between parishes and didn’t call the police.

Studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops found more than 4,000 U.S. priests have faced sexual abuse allegations since the early 1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children — mostly boys.

In one instance, a draft of a plan with Mahony’s name on it calls for sending a molester priest to his native Spain for a minimum of seven years, paying him $400 a month and offering health insurance. In return, the cardinal would agree to write the Vatican and ask them to cancel his excommunication, leaving the door open for him to return as a priest someday.

It was unclear whether the proposed agreement was enacted.

“I am concerned that the Archdiocese may later be seen as liable — for having continued to support this man — now that we have been put on notice that one of the young adults under his influence is suicidal,” a top aide wrote in a memo about the priest to Mahony in 1995, urging him to stop paying benefits to the priest.

The cardinal added a handwritten note: “I concur — the faster, the better.”

In another case, Mahony resisted turning over a list of altar boys to police who were investigating claims against a visiting Mexican priest who was later determined to have molested 26 boys during a 10-month stint in Los Angeles. “We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever,” he wrote on a January 1988 memo.

Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.

Associated Press writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.

Catholic Church Fighting Proposed Sex Abuse Bill In California


Catholic Church Fighting Proposed Sex Abuse Bill In California

By SARAH PARVINI 07/17/13 03:30 AM ET EDT

From the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/catholic-church-california-abuse-bill_n_3611462.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&ir=Religion

LOS ANGELES — Tony Quarry suppressed his memories of being abused by a Roman Catholic priest for nearly 30 years and decided to sue only after finding out that his five brothers were molested by the same man – just to discover that it was too late.

The state’s high court ultimately tossed out the brothers’ lawsuit because they missed a special legal window that allowed victims to sue over abuse claims decades after the fact. Their plight, however, has inspired new sex abuse legislation in California a decade after a similar bill cost the church hundreds of millions in civil settlements.

“I still believed in the tooth fairy when these things happened to me,” Quarry, 51, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s a good thing for these other people to have the opportunity to step forward.”

Like the previous law, Senate Bill 131 would permit many victims who would otherwise be unable to file a civil suit due to time and age restrictions – like the Quarry brothers – to sue their abuser’s employer in civil court.

The proposed law would lift the statute of limitations for one year for the group of alleged victims who were 26 and older and missed the previous deadline.

The Catholic Church did not fight the 2002 bill that opened the flood gates for hundreds of victims and led to $1.2 billion in settlements from dioceses statewide, including $660 million in Los Angeles alone. This time, however, the church is fighting hard against the proposed legislation – from the pews to lobbyists.

The 2002 law led to settlements that also forced the Los Angeles archdiocese to make public earlier this year thousands of pages of confidential files kept on priests accused or suspected of abuse.

The California Council of Nonprofit Organization, a group affiliated with the California Catholic Conference, has spent more than $70,000 to fight the bill, according to documents from the California Secretary of State’s office. The Catholic Church and private organizations have called the bill a step backward, and charge they have been unfairly targeted because the proposed legislation does not apply to public schools.

The bill, as authored by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, specifically targets only private institutions.

In Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose Gomez urged local Catholics to contact their legislators, arguing in the church newsletter that the proposed change “puts the social services and educational work of the Church at risk.”

The LA archdiocese and other private institutions fear the reform would make them vulnerable to cases like those brought against the church following allegations of clergy sex abuse more than a decade ago.

“Our hearts can bleed and feel sad for those who didn’t come forward, but the purpose is good and fair public policy,” said Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, which represents the California Catholic Conference of Bishops.

The bill, Dolejsi argued, could have a devastating effect on nonprofits, such as Catholic schools, as well as state dioceses that have already paid more than $1 billion in settlements, while exempting public employers.

The LA archdiocese declined to comment on the bill and referred calls to Dolejsi. Archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan did not respond to a request for comment.

The California Association of Private School Organizations, which includes pre-collegiate, independent and religious schools, has also said that the bill is unfair.

California’s current law states a victim can sue a third party up until the age of 26, or within three years of the time a victim realizes he or she was abused – whichever period expires later.

Under the proposed bill, the statute of limitations would be lifted for one year for the group of people who were 26 or older and missed the previous window because they discovered abuse trauma more recently.

Tom Lyon, a law expert at the University of Southern California, said the bill’s key provision addresses issues of fairness. One group of abuse victims has no means to come forward and file a civil suit, he said, and the proposed law aims to fix that.

“It’s hard to defend a case when it happened decades ago,” he said.

“But why not give them their day in court?”

The Quarry brothers’ case dates back to 2007, when they filed a civil lawsuit against the bishop of Oakland.

The brothers, now in their 40s and 50s, alleged they were molested by an Oakland priest in the 1970s but didn’t connect it to their distress until 2006. The priest admitted in a sworn deposition in 2005 that he had had sexual relationships with four sets of underage brothers during the 1970s, including at least two of the brothers in the Quarry case. The priest was forced to retire following abuse allegations in 1993 and died in 2010.

In 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled it was too late for the brothers to sue because the one-year window extended by the legislature had passed.

The proposed reform has already gone through the state Senate and passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It’s expected to go to the House Appropriations Committee in August.

Quarry and his brothers can’t refile their lawsuit even if the new legislation passes because the high court’s ruling in their individual case was final, but he hopes it passes so other victims are able to come forward.

“They call us all enemies of the church, but we’re not,” he said. “We’re victims of the church.”

Records detail cardinal’s failings in abuse scandal


Records detail cardinal’s failings in abuse scandal
By Wayne Drash, CNN
February 22nd, 2013

07:15 PM ET
(CNN) – Told by two families that a visiting priest was suspected of molesting their children in 1988, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not immediately notify police. Instead, Cardinal Roger Mahony’s right-hand man alerted the priest – a heads-up that allowed him to flee the country for Mexico.

He remained in the priesthood there for another 21 years, allegedly continuing to molest. He has denied the accusations and remains a fugitive.

Newly released church documents show the behind-the-scenes machinations of top officials within the Los Angeles archdiocese making decisions on how to deal with pedophile priests, hindering police investigations and saying, in private, something completely different than what they said in public.

Mahony, one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church in America at the time, received constant updates on molesting priests and sometimes gave orders on how to deal with cases, including once telling subordinates to deny a police request for a list of altar boys. In at least one case, minute details like retirement benefits were discussed for an admitted molester.

On Saturday, Mahony faced a deposition, answering questions on his handling of the abuse scandal for the first time since the documents’ release.

He will journey next to Rome to join the conclave to decide the next pope – a decision that has stirred controversy among advocates of abuse victims and many Catholics.

Anthony De Marco, an attorney who has spent decades representing abuse victims, said the newly released documents surprised even him, because they show “how frequently there was correspondence back and forth between Cardinal Mahony and his top assistants and others after a priest was accused.”

“We know a lot more about his conduct and his words now than we ever have, and I believe that’s going to make for a much more thorough deposition,” said De Marco, ahead of the deposition he was scheduled to lead.

The archdiocese had fought for years against the documents’ being made public. But a judge ordered the release of the material – more than 12,000 pages that detail the extent of sexual abuse within the archdiocese dating back to the 1930s.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said in rebuking Mahony, his predecessor.

Still, Gomez supports Mahony on his journey to Rome, where he will join the papal conclave in the Sistine Chapel to choose the next pope. In a letter to priests within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Gomez asked them “to pray for Cardinal Mahony as he fulfills this sacred duty as Cardinal Elector.”

“I am confident that Cardinal Mahony’s accomplishments and experience in the areas of immigration, social justice, sacred liturgy, and the role of the laity in the Church will serve the College of Cardinals well,” Gomez said.

‘The children are not traumatized’

The case of the Rev. Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera is a microcosm of the larger abuse crisis within the church. It will be at the heart of the deposition.

At a time when the archdiocese was widening its base within the ever-growing Latino community in Southern California, Aguilar-Rivera came to the United States from Mexico, in March 1987. Aguilar-Rivera’s bishop in Mexico had asked the Los Angeles archdiocese to take him in.

The archdiocese welcomed him and found a spot for him in two parishes where parents trusted him with their children, unsupervised.

“He even used his status as a newcomer, his need to learn English, as his ruse for getting children alone,” said Terry McKiernan, founder of the church watchdog group BishopAccountability.org.  “It’s one of the most extreme combinations of devout Catholic people very open to a priest, very respectful of him, and the callousness and carelessness of hierarchy on both sides of the border about the dangers that this priest posed.”

McKiernan added, “This is a man who was a total predator, whose entire life and being seemed to be focused on abusing children.”

Once in the United States, Aguilar-Rivera was first sent to work at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church with a largely Mexican-American population in East Los Angeles. The bishop for that area, Juan Arzube, Mahony’s vicar general for the San Gabriel Region, had once been accused of molestation and often lobbied on behalf of molesting priests, arguing they deserved to be forgiven, the documents show.

Arzube denied molesting any children himself, but admitted under deposition to being alone with altar boys on many occasions in his rectory apartment. His name was part of a massive civil lawsuit settled with accusers in 2007.

Arzube’s cavalier attitude toward sexual abuse is summed up in a 1980 document in which he lobbied for reinstatement of a priest who had been stripped of his duties, for a second time, because he molested altar boys. “How many priests are there completely guiltless over a period of 10 years?” said Arzube, who died on Christmas Day in 2007 at age 89.

The first inkling of Aguilar-Rivera’s alleged ­actions in America came on Friday January 8, 1988, when two families – “all trustworthy people” – informed their pastor that they believed their children had been molested. The priest, in turn, told Thomas Curry, the vicar of clergy and Mahony’s second in command.

One incident “happened at Christmas when Father visited the other family,” Curry told Mahony in a letter dated January 10, 1988. “There was a good deal of drinking, and the family asked him to stay. He slept in the room with the children and is supposed to have gotten into bed with one of the boys that night.”

The principal of the boys’ school, Curry noted, had been informed of the accusations and “will be obliged to report it to police.”

But the church didn’t respond by first alerting police. Instead, Curry met with Aguilar-Rivera at the church the day after the allegations were made, a Saturday morning, and informed him that a police investigation would be launched.

“I offered to find a place for him to live until he could make other arrangements, but he volunteered that he would stay with his sister here and leave for Mexico on Monday or Tuesday of this week,” Curry wrote Mahony.

“… He asked that his bishop not be told, and I said that would not be possible. I told him the charges as I knew them, although I did not give the names of the families. He denied all, although he admitted that there was a good deal of drinking at Christmas. I told him that it was likely the accusations would be reported to the police and that he was in a good deal of danger.”

The documents show no suggestion on Curry’s or Mahony’s part that Aguilar-Rivera stay in the United States, cooperate with authorities and face the allegations.

Armed with the information, Aguilar-Rivera skipped town before police were notified on Monday, apparently by the school principal. That day, a detective asked an official within the archdiocese if Aguilar-Rivera intended to flee to Mexico.

“I said I was not sure,” said the official, who is not named in the documents. “I also said that Nicolas knew that it would probably be reported to the police, and that I had explained that some people were bound to report.”

Law enforcement took the allegations seriously and launched an investigation, even accusing the church of not fully cooperating with its efforts – an accusation that would eventually go public in a story in the Los Angeles Times.

One document says that a boy’s relative “had heard” that cops had accused church officials of a cover-up.  “The family does not want any trouble,” said the memo dated January 21, 1988. “They want [Aguilar-Rivera] to receive help and that he not be able to do this again.”

The memo added, “The children are not traumatized.”

Five days later, police pushed for a list of altar boys at St. Agatha’s, the second parish where Aguilar-Rivera worked. This request sent archdiocese officials into a frenzy.

Curry wrote Mahony that he believed the church should not cooperate.  “We have no evidence that Father Aguilar-Rivera was involved with altar boys as such,” Curry wrote on January 26, 1988. “All the boys involved were members of families he was friendly with in Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the alleged abuse took place while he was visiting these families or while they were visiting him.”

The pastor at St. Agatha, Curry continued, had no knowledge of abuse on his premises and “his concern is that if the police come and interview the boys, the matter will spread around the parish. The parish there is a black-Hispanic one, and he finds his situation as an Anglo pastor a very delicate one.”

“The whole issue of our records is a very sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police,” Curry concluded. “We are being friendly but firm.”

At the bottom of the typed letter is a handwritten message from Mahony. “We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever,” he scrawled on the page, initializing it with “RMM.”

He underlined “cannot” for extra emphasis.

None of the archdiocese officials were ever charged with obstruction of justice.

Police eventually got the altar boy list, with no help from the archdiocese. Investigators learned the extent of Aguilar-Rivera’s alleged crimes by interviewing boys ranging in age from about 9 to 13.

In all, police said, 26 boys were molested in just nine months, many of them repeatedly. Aguilar-Rivera would eventually be charged in a felony complaint relating to 10 boys, with 19 counts of committing a lewd act with a child.

A Los Angeles Times reporter asked the archdiocese for comment at the time; its public statement stands in direct contrast to what the newly released documents reveal. “He was asked to stay in the country to face the accusations against him, but he chose to leave,” said Joseph Battaglia, the spokesman for the archdiocese.

In the article, police said the church was being less than forthcoming with investigators; a father of two of the alleged victims said simply, “The church shouldn’t be telling lies.”

With the allegations now in the open, the tone of archdiocese officials shifted. Three days later, Curry wrote Aguilar-Rivera’s bishop in Mexico and included a copy of the Los Angeles Times’ story.

“May I request that if you know of the whereabouts of Father Aguilar-Rivera,” Curry said, “you urge him most strongly to return here to answer the allegations that have been made against him.”

While on  the run, Aguilar-Rivera even called the home of one of the boys he allegedly molested.

“Don’t you know everybody is looking for you?” the mother said, according to a March 11, 1988, memo.

“For what?” Aguilar-Rivera responded.

Aguilar-Rivera would remain in the priesthood in Mexico – for another 21 years. He would be dogged of more molestation allegations while there.

A civil suit filed in the United States in 2010 by a Mexican citizen alleged Aguilar-Rivera raped him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Mexico. The suit alleges Mahony and a Mexican cardinal conspired to hide Aguilar-Rivera between the two countries with full knowledge of his alleged pedophilia, putting an untold number of children at risk. Mahony has denied the allegations.

Aguilar-Rivera was convicted in Mexico in 2003 of a misdemeanor sex abuse charge, but was allowed to walk free while the case was under appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News.

He remains on Mexico’s federal prosecutor’s Most Want List wanted on charges of rape and indecent assault.

Aguilar-Rivera was finally stripped of his duties in 2009 by the Vatican, which approved his removal from “clerical state, a priest who has been accused of the sexual abuse of minors in Mexico and the United States,” the Catholic News Agency reported on July 31, 2009.

Attorney De Marco said it’s disgusting church authorities did nothing to stop him.

“He was able to walk around with the authority of the collar in a country where that authority carries more significance than it does here,” De Marco said. “How could anyone ever justify that 21-year delay? This man molested 26 children in nine months in the United States. How many more were there over 21 years?”

Aguilar-Rivera, now 71, is believed to be alive, a free man in Mexico.

Mahony prays for humiliation

Mahony, who turns 77 next week, was appointed archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II in 1985, overseeing the archdiocese until 2011 when he retired. In 1991, he became a cardinal, the highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope.

McKiernan, who launched BishopAccountability.org in 2003 to keep track of the widespread church abuse, said the recently released documents show the scope and magnitude of Mahony’s and Curry’s efforts in “intentionally evading the authorities.”

“We didn’t have evidence of that before. It’s actually more stark,” he said. “You can tell from these documents Mahony was trying to keep abused priests away from police. ­… The document record is a disgraceful one.”

Curry stepped down earlier this month as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and “publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as vicar for clergy,” archbishop Gomez said in announcing the resignation.

Mahony has said he has long acknowledged mistakes in the 1980s and that he improved the reporting mechanisms of priestly abuse in the years that followed.

He has recently taken to his personal blog, scribing an array of posts about praying for humiliation.

“… I am for the first time realizing that I should be praying for the very things from which I cringe, the disgrace I abhor, the fool that I seem,” he blogged on February 15.

In a post this week, he asked followers for “your prayers and your encouragements in my own life to handle all of my mistakes, omissions, and commissions as God asks, and as Jesus and Mary lived out: to take in what swirls around me, to hold it, to carry it, to transform it and to give it back as grace, blessing and gift.”

De Marco, the attorney conducting the deposition, said Mahony should feel one emotion far greater than humiliation: shame.

Amid calls for Mahony to not travel to Rome, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles remains steadfast in its support of his trip, saying canon law dictates that he attend.

Catholics United, a liberal-leaning group that pushes for social justice within the church, and SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said they delivered a petition with close to 10,000 signatures to Saint Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood on Saturday, asking for Mahony not to attend the conclave.

“His participation in the conclave would only bring clouds of shame at a time that should bring springs of hope. Cardinal Mahony, please, stay home,” said Chris Pumpelly, Catholics United’s communications director.

There is no indication he will.

- CNN Belef Blog

Should Sex-Abuse-Scandal Cardinals Be Allowed to Vote for New Pope?


Should Sex-Abuse-Scandal Cardinals Be Allowed to Vote for New Pope?

by  Barbie Latza Nadeau     Feb 21, 2013 1:25 PM EST 

From the link:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/21/should-sex-abuse-scandal-cardinals-be-allowed-to-vote-for-new-pope.html

As the conclave for new pope nears, Catholics are calling for cardinals embroiled in sex-abuse scandals to abstain from voting.

Can he who has sinned cast a vote for the next pope? Apparently so.  But a growing number of the Vatican’s cardinal electors are being questioned over their knowledge of past sex-abuse scandals, calling into question their ethical right to vote in the next conclave.

In less than a week, the majority of the 117-strong College of Cardinals is expected to descend upon Rome to prepare for the conclave in which they will elect a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned February 11.  But as the Vatican prepares for the pageantry of the occasion, survivors of the church’s sex scandals and everyday Catholics are raising concerns about whether it is appropriate for certain cardinals to be allowed to dictate the church’s future. “In our view, it’s very safe to assume that almost every one of the prelates who’ll pick the pope … have ignored, concealed, or enabled child sex crimes,” Zach Hiner, a spokesman for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), tells The Daily Beast.

While many cardinals have been stained by the extensive clergy sex scandals, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles Roger M. Mahony has become a poster priest for the corrupt cardinals of this conclave. Mahony was effectively let go as head of America’s largest diocese in January by his Vatican-endorsed replacement, Archbishop José Gomez, when a California court released 120,000 pages of internal church documents sequestered during investigations of 120 predatory priests in the Los Angeles diocese. The documents show that Mahony was directly involved in moving known pedophiles between parishes in an attempt to conceal their crimes. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” said Gomez in a statement when he fired his predecessor.  More than $600,000 has been paid in lawsuits to victims in the Los Angeles diocese.

This Saturday Mahony will appear in a Los Angeles court to give a deposition in a criminal case involving a Mexican priest who is accused of raping 29 children over just nine months in 1987. The priest is on the lam in Mexico with multiple arrest warrants for child abuse against him, and he has been defrocked in absentia. But Mahony allegedly covered for the priest and obstructed justice when parents of the reported victims complained to the police. He is currently not facing charges, but he will be questioned under oath. Then, according to his Twitter feed, he plans to head to Rome—unless someone stops him. “Countdown to the papal conclave has begun,” he tweeted. “Your prayers needed that we elect the best Pope for today and tomorrow’s church.”

Since Benedict’s resignation, a not-so-subtle storm has been brewing outside Vatican City calling for Mahony to stay in California. Signs have been posted (and quickly removed) along the perimeter walls of Saint Peter’s Square warning that cardinals, like Mahony, who have been embroiled in the sex-abuse scandals are coming to town. Even the ultraconservative Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana, which is distributed for free in many Catholic churches each Sunday, has been weighing in on the topic. The influential magazine conducted an online survey among its faithful readers about whether Mahony should be allowed to participate in the election of the next pope (the overwhelming response was no). They then ran a damning op-ed piece called “Cardinal in Court” in which they called on Catholics to voice their opinions about the case. The American-based group Catholics United has also launched an online petition to urge Mahony to stay home. Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis suggested in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica that perhaps the right approach was if Mahony “could be advised not to take part only through a private intervention by someone with great authority”—which could mean the pope himself. Barbara Blaine of SNAP echoed that sentiment in a statement this week: “We hope that high ranking Vatican officials will instead preclude Mahony from attending the conclave and voting for the new Pope. His sordid record covering up child sex crimes should be considered a stain on the church and unworthy of a papal elector.”

Mahony’s may be the worst case, but he is certainly not the only cardinal elector stained by the church’s American sex-abuse scandals. On Wednesday the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, spent three hours answering questions under oath about pedophile priests under his clerical management during his time as the head of the Milwaukee diocese in Wisconsin from 2002 to 2009. While there, he allegedly used church money to pay “a handful” of predatory priests more than $20,000 to leave the priesthood quietly, a claim he originally denied until bankruptcy documents seemed to indicate that the payments were made.

Dolan, who has not been charged with any crime, will also head to Rome next week to prepare for the conclave. His name has been circulated as a potential pope, though that was before his deposition was made public this week. He is certainly not a favorite among the church abuse victims’ groups. “Dolan has been particularly adept at evading responsibility for his wrongdoing in clergy sex cases, having moved twice since the scandal started gaining international attention more than a decade ago, and having worked, three times, in states with especially archaic child-abuse laws that favor defendants,” says David Clohessy, head of SNAP. “Civil justice can expose predators and their enablers, but only criminal justice can imprison and deter them. So while these depositions represent progress, it’s crucial to remember that the best way to prevent and discourage future crimes and cover-ups is for secular authorities to investigate, charge, and convict Catholic officials who hide and enable heinous crimes against kids.”

The question of just who will vote in the conclave could prove pivotal in whether the church will be seen as addressing its dark history of well-documented abuse. If Mahony is somehow dissuaded from attending, many believe that it would send a message that the church is taking a different stance on abuse going forward and that this College of Cardinals will elect a pope who has as clean a record on the issue as possible.

Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties


Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties

By Jennifer Medina and Laurie Goodstein

Published January 31. 2013

From the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/us/cardinal-in-los-angeles-is-removed-from-duties.html?ref=romancatholicchurchsexabusecases

LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José H. Gomez, as the church complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.

The documents, released as part of a record $660 million settlement in 2007 with the victims of abuse, are the strongest evidence so far that top officials for years purposely tried to conceal abuse from law enforcement officials. The files, which go from the 1940s to the present, are the latest in a series of revelations that suggest that the church continued to maneuver against law enforcement even after the extent of the abuse crisis emerged.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who was the vicar for clergy and one of the cardinal’s top deputies and his adviser on sexual abuse, also stepped down as the regional bishop for Santa Barbara, Calif.

The church had fought for years to keep the documents secret, and until this week it argued that the names of top church officials should be kept private. In letters written in the 1980s, then-Father Curry gave suggestions for how to stop the police from investigating priests who admitted that they had abused children, like stopping the priests from seeing therapists who would be required to alert law enforcement about the abuse.

Both Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry have publicly apologized in the past, but have said that they were naïve at the time about the effectiveness of treatment for abusers and the impact on victims.

In a letter on Thursday, Archbishop Gomez wrote that the files are “brutal and painful reading.”

“The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” he said. “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. We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”

Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry are still able to celebrate Mass and other religious duties. But Cardinal Mahony, a vocal advocate of immigrant rights, will no longer speak publicly, as he has done frequently since his retirement in 2011, a spokesman for the archdiocese said.

Archbishop Gomez’s move to discipline his predecessor and to accept the resignation of Bishop Curry, was unexpected and unusual. It has not been the custom of bishops to use disciplinary measures against one another — or even to issue any public criticism.

Instead, as part of the sweeping package of policies for dealing with sexual abuse that American bishops passed at the height of the abuse scandal in 2002, the bishops agreed that they would employ what they call “fraternal correction” with one another when the situation requires. Only the pope can decide to remove a bishop from the leadership of his diocese. And only the pope can defrock a priest or a bishop.

Advocates for abuse victims had called for Bishop Curry’s removal last week, and had mixed reactions on Thursday to the actions taken by Archbishop Gomez. David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Bishop Curry’s resignation “a small step in the right direction.”

But Mr. Clohessy said that the sanctions against Cardinal Mahony amounted to little more than “hand-slapping,” and are “a nearly meaningless gesture.”

Santa Barbara Bishop Apologizes In Catholic Church Cover Up


Santa Barbara Bishop Apologizes In Catholic Church Cover Up

Posted: Jan 26, 2013 12:42 AM EST Updated: Jan 26, 2013 12:42 AM EST By Liberty Zabala

From the link: http://www.kcoy.com/story/20711797/santa-barbara-bishop-apologizes-in-catholic-church-cover-up

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Dark days fall upon the Catholic Church as files upon files of alleged child sex abuse finally come to light.

Letters between Archdiocese of Los Angeles – Santa Barbara Region Bishop Thomas J. Curry and Cardinal Roger Mahony show they knew about alleged child sex abuse but choose to cover it up.

“You can imagine what the church has to lose,” says Child Sex Abuse Therapist Nancy Gutfreund. “You’re supposed to be an organization that completely protects its people and when there’s damage done nobody wants to admit it.”

But Bishop Curry was forced to, releasing this statement saying:

“I wish to apologize for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken.”

A mistake the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office is now investigating.

“We have some very serious allegations of obstruction of justice at the very least by individuals, I think the community has trusted throughout for a number of decades,” says Santa Barbara City Chief Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer. “And that’s a disturbing fact.”

And prosecutors face another challenge. Most of the files happened in the 1980′s far beyond the statute of limitations.

“If an individual has actively hidden information from law enforcement, there are some ways and situations where that statute of limitations is tolled,” says Dozer. “Meaning it does not preclude us from going forward.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonnen to lead the investigation against the church.

Last year, prosecutors in Philadelphia were able to convict a monsignor and in Missouri, a judge found a bishop guilty for failing to report child sex abuse.

Cardinal Mahony Should Stand Trial


Cardinal Mahony Should Stand Trial

January 24, 2013

From the link: http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2013/01/cardinal-mahoney-should-stand-trial/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cardinal-mahoney-should-stand-trial

“This week’s revelations of deliberate efforts by [Los Angeles Cardinal] Mahony and others to shield abusers from law enforcement authorities are deplorable yet entirely unsurprising. It all fits the M.O. that’s was in place at least through the 1980s:

“Conceal the church’s dirty secrets at all costs. Don’t notify the police when abuse is reported. Keep prosecutors at bay with legal challenges. Avoid reforms until public pressure mounts. And, when all else fails, have Mahony issue a carefully scripted ‘apology.’

“His latest was perhaps his most odious and offensive, with Mahony saying he didn’t fully appreciate the hell victims had been put through until many years later.

“You need years of reflection to realize that the rape, abuse, betrayal and psychological exploitation of children by their spiritual leaders is both devastating and unconscionable?”

This is how Steve Lopez, LA Times columnist, describes the outrage of the recently released documents in a current legal proceeding against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by a victim of a priest.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, describes the relevance of these documents:

“Because of one survivor’s fight in the California Civil Courts against Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, never seen before documents containing vital evidence of how clergy abuse cases were handled by the Archdiocese are now available for public view.

Portions of the thousands of documents filed in this case are posted on the web site www.abusedinsocal.com. The documents, which were not a part of the documents involved in the 2007 settlements with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, demonstrate that former Archbishop and now Cardinal Roger Mahoney knew from his first days in office that priests under his supervision were sexually abusing children in Los Angeles.

The documents further demonstrate that contrary to Mahony’s past claims, he was intimately involved in handling the sex abuse scandal of priests in Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011 and communicated directly with priest perpetrators and their therapists–just as his predecessors McIntrye and Manning had done before him.

Also included in the documents is evidence that as Archbishop, Mahony worked with his Vicar for Clergy to thwart law enforcement involvement by ordering Pastors to not give Altar Boy lists to LAPD detectives, while at the same time, cozying up to high ranking officers at LAPD Juvenile Division.

And finally, even though Mahony and his Vicars for Clergy were aware of the crimes of the priests, the names of the children, and the names of the families; he did not call law enforcement or child protective services but offered counseling in order to keep his perceived enemies closer.

Mahony, the first native Angeleno to be created Cardinal, now holds the title of Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles.”

A local testimony of this horrible practice was shared by Matthew Carrigan, on July 2012

“…Words really can’t describe what you did to me. The abuse you subjected me to has ripped me apart. Here I stand at 39 years old still trying to heal and piece my life together. I can not ask why you did it, because you’d never be able to answer that question. I wouldn’t want to hear your sick and twisted spin on it like you gave your parishioners . I can not call you a man of god. You are nothing more than a demented monster. A monster that hides under a religious organization who protects you and allows you to continue abusing children even after you have been accused. You stole from me my childhood, my innocence, my trust, my sense of being, my security, my education, my self worth, my sanity. The list goes on and on…”

The Cardinal should stand trial, don’t you think so?

References:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0123-lopez-mahony-20130123,0,2185624.column

http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2012/07/timothy_raemakers_corpus_christi.php

http://theworthyadversary.com/author/jcasteix

http://ianmasters.com/  January 22 interview of Joelle Casteix a spokesperson for SNAP, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

The archdiocese’s cover-up


Editorial

The archdiocese’s cover-up

The release of confidential files on 1980s clergy sex abuse in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is the beginning of the end of a long and sordid saga.

From the link: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-mahony-clergy-abuse-files-20130123,0,1998210.story

For years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles fought to keep secret its confidential files concerning pedophile priests. Hundreds of sex abuse victims hoping for a full accounting of what church leaders knew about the growing scandal and what they did to stop it were rebuffed time and again.

But the cover-up is finally coming to an end. On Monday, a series of memos and letters filed in a civil case confirmed that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other church leaders plotted to shield pedophile priests rather than turn them over to police and prosecutors.

The documents, which date to 1986 and 1987, show how Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, his top advisor on sex abuse cases, discussed strategies to keep priests from coming to the attention of law enforcement. Curry proposed to Mahony that certain priests be kept from seeing therapists, who would have been obliged to alert police; in other cases, priests were sent out of state to avoid criminal investigations. One cleric — who had admitted molesting undocumented immigrant children for decades, and even threatened one with deportation if he reported the abuse to police — was not allowed by Mahony to return to California from a treatment center, for fear that it would spark criminal or civil action.

The confidential files of at least 75 more abusers are expected to be released during the next few weeks as part of a 2007 legal settlement with some 500 abuse victims.

Sadly, few people will be shocked to learn that the archdiocese failed to protect children who had put their trust in the church, or that it refused to bring to justice the priests who betrayed that trust. Church officials in Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere behaved similarly for decades, often shuffling priests from parish to parish to conceal abuse and thwart investigations, allowing those pedophiles to prey on new victims.

The latest revelations will also come as little surprise to survivors of clergy abuse. They have long accused the church hierarchy, including Mahony, of caring more about the church than its victims, more about public relations than about protecting the vulnerable. Mahony, who has repeatedly apologized for mishandling the cases, sounded contrite again Monday, saying he had been too naive and had failed to understand the lasting impact such abuse would have on the lives of young victims.

It’s true that these horrendous events happened years ago, when public attitudes toward child abuse were evolving. But it’s difficult to take Mahony’s claims of naivete seriously, given how keenly aware he seems to have been of both the actions of his priests and their legal ramifications. He knew these were criminal acts even as he sought to hide them from public scrutiny.

The church’s expressions of regret also ring hollow given its ongoing battle to keep the names of its leaders from appearing in the documents when they are finally released. Just this month, the archdiocese again asked a Los Angeles court to keep the names private.

Fortunately, a judge rejected that request. Only when the files have been released, including the names of all the people who participated in these crimes and the cover-up that followed, will the church have made good on its promise to reveal the whole truth.

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Priestly sexual abuse, churchly cover-ups


Priestly sexual abuse, churchly cover-ups

By Patt Morrison

January 22, 2013, 1:34 p.m

From the link: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-priestly-sexual-abuse-churchly-coverups-20130122,0,2547320.story

Cardinal Roger Mahony at a mass welcoming the Los Angeles Diocese's new archbishop (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / May 26, 2010)

Cardinal Roger Mahony at a mass welcoming the Los Angeles Diocese’s new archbishop (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / May 26, 2010)

 

I had to look twice at the date on the newspaper to make sure I wasn’t having a time-warp moment.

I’d heard this before. In a way, I’d covered this before.

My colleagues Ashley Powers, Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan have dropped a doozy on Southern California with their story of memos recounting how, a decade and a half before the scandal emerged about Roman Catholic priests’ sexual abuse of young people, future Cardinal Roger Mahony and an advisor planned to hide these molestations from law enforcement, going so far as to move the suspect priests out of California.

In a word, a cover-up.

But long before those memos that The Times found about concealing priests’ misconduct, the church apparently was doing the same thing in the face of a lawsuit by a young woman named Rita Milla. I wrote the stories about her suit against seven Filipino priests working here, and the archdiocese, for $21 million in 1984. Her suit said that:

  • For four years, beginning when she was 16 and a parishioner at a Wilmington Catholic Church, first one and then all seven priests had sex with her, beginning when one who fondled her through a broken confessional screen. Two of them assured her that “it was morally, ethically all right for her to have sexual intercourse with them … that by doing so, that she would be helping them and helping herself.” Milla was 16 when all this began; the age of consent in California is 18, but no question of criminal charges was evidently pursued in this matter, perhaps because of the statute of limitations.
  • When she became pregnant — by one of the younger priests, as DNA tests showed years later — Milla says there was talk of an abortion; then the priests got her a passport, arranged travel to the home of one priest’s relative in the Philippines for her pregnancy, and told her family she was going abroad to study. When she came back with a baby daughter, and the priests did not pitch in to support the child, she asked the church to help hold the priests to their responsibility. But, she said, when one churchman said it was probably her fault, and not the priests’ alone, she went to a lawyer.
  • Not soon enough. California courts first dismissed the archdiocese from the case, saying that because sex with parishioners isn’t part of a priest’s job description, the church couldn’t be liable. And then the courts threw out Milla’s case completely because her legal clock was timed out — by about six months before the suit, as it turned out. The courts said she should have sued, at the latest, within a year of her daughter’s birth.
  • Milla was regarded as off-balance, a fantasist, a scarlet woman. She filed a slander suit against a bishop who told a local Spanish-language radio station that she was a “person of bad reputation.” Then-Cardinal Timothy Manning, at the archdiocese’s old cathedral of St. Vibiana’s, scolded The Times for its coverage of Milla’s case. And the priests could not be served with the lawsuit because they could not be found. When I called looking for them, I was told they were out of the office. Then I was told they were away on vacation or retreat, then transferred to unknown parishes. Gone.

About half a dozen years after this, my phone at The Times rang. A creaky voice said, “Patt? It’s Father Tamayo.” The eldest of the seven priests was dying, and he was remorseful. He had a confession to make to me. He showed me documents on the archdiocese letterhead. One, CCed to Cardinal Manning (Mahony came to the archdiocese a year after Milla sued), advised Tamayo not to reveal he was being paid by the archdiocese unless he was questioned under oath. A check for $375 was included. It was one of many checks.

The archdiocese knew where to send Tamayo the letters advising him to stay away, and nearly four years’ worth of checks, but did not share that with Milla’s lawyers. A copy of one letter urging Tamayo to go back to the Philippines was copied to then-Archbishop Mahony.

Tamayo kept asking the archdiocese for permission to come back, but the letters told him to stay put; returning could “open old wounds and further hurt anyone concerned, including the archdiocese.” Tamayo was also in bad standing with the church because he had gotten married.

A church spokesman told me then that the payments didn’t amount to hush money but were mandated until Tamayo found another post. The fact that payments went on so long was “unusual” but were sent “out of compassion and care and a sense of moral responsibility for a man who had served us.”

No such responsibility was evidently acknowledged for Milla and her child. Not until 2007, when the church paid out a massive $660-million settlement to more than 500 young people who had been victimized by clergy, did Milla get any money for what she went through. By then her daughter, the priest’s daughter, was 25 years old.

LA priest accused of sex crimes exiled to PH


LA priest accused of sex crimes exiled to PH

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:56 Mico Letargo | AJPress

From the link: http://www.asianjournal.com/community/community-news/19203-la-priest-accused-of-sex-crimes-exiled-to-ph-.html

LOS ANGELES – Confidential records attached in a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles revealed how church officials attempted to keep silent about abuse allegations for decades, and maneuvered outside of the public eye to shield molester priests.

An in-depth report by the Associated Press revealed that  one of the molester priests was exiled to the Philippines by archdiocese officials and was paid a ‘secret salary’ as well.

The exiled priest, along with six other clerics, were accused of having sex with a teen and impregnating her.

The lawsuit also implicated retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top church officials in the handling of the damage control campaign for the archdiocese, in attempts to keep parishioners uninformed of the abuses.

A top aide for Mahony was also cited in the lawsuit. He expressed dissent and criticized his superiors for covering up the allegations, instead of giving protection to the victims.

AP, quoting email correspondence with archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan, pointed out that Mahony inherited some of the worst cases when he took over as Cardinal for Los Angeles in 1985.

According to Hennigan, abusive priests were sent to psychological treatment centers out of state because they tended to reveal more information to therapists who were not required by California law to report child abuse incidents to law enforcement.

During the late 1980s, clergymen were not mandated to report sex abuse cases and the church allowed the victims’ family to decide whether or not to report incidents to authorities, Hennigan said.

In one circumstance, a memo for Mahony was unearthed during the investigation and it discussed sending an erring priest to a therapist, who is also an attorney, so that any incriminating evidence would be protected under the lawyer-client privacy privilege.

Attorney Anthony De Marco said that personnel files on at least 13 clergymen were attached in the lawsuit, in an attempt to establish a cover-up pattern by the archdiocese.

As part of a $660 million settlement, the Archdiocese agreed to make public around 30,000 pages of evidence from the case.

In 2007, it consented to furnish copies of the files to the over 500 victims of clergy abuse, but an attorney for the priests fought to keep the records under wraps.

A recent ruling by a judge compelled the church to release the documents without blacking out the names of the church officials after some intervention from AP and the Los Angeles Times.

The aide, Msgr. Richard Loomis, upon his retirement in 2001 as vicar for the clergy, expressed his dismay over the handling of the matter.

“We’ve stepped back 20 years and are being driven by the need to cover-up and to keep the presbyteriate & public happily ignorant rather than the need to protect children,” Loomis wrote to his successor.

According to Hennigan, then Cardinal Mahony preferred to release targeted warnings to schools and youth groups rather than issuing a warning that would be read during holy masses.  Hennigan told the AP that parish announcements were issued only later on.

On Monday, January 21, Maohony issued a statement of apology even while out of town.  He apologized for his errors, and claimed that he had been “naïve” on the lasting impact of abuse.

He confessed that he had been able to privately meet with 90 abuse victims and has since kept index cards with each victim’s name. The Cardinal said that he prays for these victims daily in his private chapel.

“But I also list in parenthesis the name of the clergy perpetrator lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm in the lives of innocent young people,” Mahoney said in his statement.

“It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward, with even greater healing.”

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