Pressed to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to settle clergy sex abuse lawsuits, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony turned to one group of Catholics whose faith could not be shaken: the dead."Quietly appropriated" is apparently fancy talk for "stole." As in, Cardinal Mahony stole 88 percent of a fund that has existed since the 1890s, specifically to maintain the church-owned cemeteries. But Mahony had a really good reason! He needed that money to help pay off the $660-million sexual abuse settlement. And besides, it's not like those dead people would mind if their graves got a little unkempt in the name of a worthy cause, right?
Under his leadership in 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles quietly appropriated $115 million from a cemetery maintenance fund and used it to help pay a landmark settlement with molestation victims.
Naturally, the archdiocese insists that it's all kosher for Mahony to help himself to this money, and besides, stealing it will have "no effect" on the archdiocese's ability to maintain the cemeteries. Even though the archdiocese has hired a company in New York to "study the feasibility" of a $200 million fundraising drive to help pay off, that's right, those pesky sexual abuse lawsuit settlements. Damn, those conspiracies to protect child rapists sure get expensive, don't they?
You'd think stealing from dead people should be illegal or something. And under California law, it is. Usually:
State law prohibits private cemeteries from touching the principal of their perpetual care funds and bars them from using the interest on those funds for anything other than maintenance. Those laws, however, do not apply to cemeteries run by religious organizations.Of course.