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The Archbishop Rebukes the Cardinal
Published: February 8, 2013
It was an extraordinary moment in Catholic Church history — the rebuke of Cardinal Roger Mahony by his successor in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles following fresh documentation of the hierarchy’s cover-up of the rape and abuse of children by priests. Cardinal Mahony, two years into retirement, was unceremoniously relieved of all public duties last month by Archbishop José Gomez, who described “brutal and painful” records of “evil” deeds during the Mahony years.
Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties (February 1, 2013)
These documents were made public after a court order capped years of fierce and costly legal resistance by Cardinal Mahony. His chief aide in protecting pedophile priests, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, quickly stepped down as the regional bishop for Santa Barbara after 12,000 pages of secret records were released.
This sorry episode shows again the appalling lack of accountability among church officials who for years contrived to cover up crimes by priests while denying their own roles in allowing the abuse to happen. Cardinal Mahony’s response to the rebuke was revealing. He wrote on his blog of the “evolution” of the scandal and insisted, “Nothing in my own background or education” as a cleric with a master’s degree in social work equipped him to deal with the problem. Catholic parents were left to ask how much education it takes to recognize criminal child abusers for what they are.
In the late 1980s, a “small number of cases” arose, the cardinal said, insisting that he consulted other bishops on how to confront the problem. The newly released records include a more candid 1988 memo about a priest accused of molesting 20 altar boys, in which Bishop Curry, then a monsignor, cautioned about the risk of notifying the police. Cardinal Mahony, then archbishop, agreed, “We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever.”
Archbishop Gomez should do more than issue a rebuke. Among other things, churchgoers need to know how many tens of millions of dollars were diverted from parish collection plates to finance the cardinal’s cover-up.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on February 9, 2013, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: The Archbishop Rebukes the Cardinal.