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I am not defending Cardinal Mahony’s record of aiding and abetting the sexual torture of Los Angeles children. I am explaining why, for the first time in the history of the American Catholic Church, one hierarch was publicly censured and other notorious US prelates (Law - Boston MA, Rigali and Bevilacqua - Philadelphia PA, Brom - San Diego CA, Franklin - Davenport IA, Grahmann - Dallas TX, Coleman - Fall River MA, McCormack - Manchester NH, Egan - Bridgeport CT, Cote - Norwich CT, Murphy - Rockville Centre NY, McDonnell – Springfield MA, et al) who did pretty much the same thing were not and what this tells us about who is really in charge of the Catholic Church.

Mahony used to be a well-regarded champion of Latino rights and undocumented immigrants. His successor, Opus Dei Archbishop Jose Gomez, was supposed to take up Mahony’s mantel as chief Catholic defender of Latinos (today's post "Archbishop Gomez hails Senate immigration reform plan") so that Gomez can persuade them to vote Republican. Yet California Latinos weren't listening to Gomez and voted Democrat.

Since Gomez’s announcement on Thursday that he was relieving Mahony of “any administrative or public duties” (which is bogus as I will explain below) over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse, Gomez has been widely lauded as “brave” and “courageous,” the grand protector of children. "The archbishop has in one stroke, opened up the doors and let in the sunlight."

As the LA Times noted: “The release of the records and the rebuke of [Cardinal Mahony] in LA's molestation scandal signaled a clear desire by Gomez to define the sexual abuse crisis as a problem of a different era - and a different archbishop" and substantially increase his own prestige. “It signals above everything else that the church in Los Angeles has entered a new, and if I may so, a much better age,” according to the Catholic News Agency. “In every way seemingly, he's the opposite of his predecessor, and that's what we need.”

Mahony’s public disgrace is also a warning to any US hierarch who might publicly opine that his fellow bishops are too blatantly joined at the hip with the GOP or otherwise go his own way. In 2004, Mahony publicly invited Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, to receive communion in his archdiocese even though Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) had instructed the US episcopate to bar Kerry from the sacrament. Neither has Mahony’s public feud with Mother Angelica, founder of the right wing, pro-Republican Catholic media empire, EWTN, ever been forgiven.

Under the terms of a 2007 settlement with more than 500 victims, the archdiocese was required make public the personnel files of every cleric accused of abuse. Since Gomez was assigned to the LA archdiocese in May 2010, he fought as hard as Mahony to keep hidden the 12,000 just-released pages of 122 personnel files on sexually abusive priests. On Thursday afternoon, a judge signed the order requiring the archdiocese to hand over the records and an hour later Gomez’s statement relieving Mahony of “any administrative or public duties” was released to the press.

[A]ccording to diocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg, Mahony’s daily routine will remain largely unchanged. Mahony retired in March 2011. As Tamberg told me, since that time Mahony “has had no administrative duties.” Tamberg explained that in response to Gomez’s letter, the cardinal “is reducing his public profile.”…Yet Mahony “remains a priest in good standing, and a cardinal of the church,” Tamberg said. “He can celebrate the sacraments with no restrictions.”
What is also startling is this exposure that the plutocrats are running the Catholic Church and not the Vatican.

First, it is almost unheard of for a lower cleric or prelate to reprimand a cardinal or even (symbolically) limit his activities. These are actions reserved solely to the pope. Second, Gomez's statement was made without prior approval from the Holy See. On Friday, Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said “that although he has received several requests for comment from news agencies, there are no plans at this time to issue a statement. Among other things, he said, the Vatican needs time ‘to better understand the situation,’” according to the American Vatican expert, John L. Allen Jr.

The only news I could find from the usual Italian "Vatican watchers" so far about this was yesterday's article in La Stampa "Los Angeles: The sad duel between Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Gomez," which indicates that the Vatican has not yet backed Gomez.

If there is any criticism being leveled at Gomez in the Catholic press, it is the failure to similarly censure Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph. In September 2012, Finn was convicted for failure to report the criminal sexual activity with a child of Fr. Ratigan to the authorities. But then, Finn was also ordained into Opus Dei.

Or perhaps Gomez can’t draw attention to the sex abuse scandal as a current and on-going abomination and needs to foster the public perception that the sex abuse scandal is not only a thing of the past but also that the US episcopate is "taking action." A common complaint has been the lack of "fraternal correction" among the episcopate for one of its own.

In addition to all of the above, Gomez's statement can be used to counter the damaging publicity sure to come after tomorrow's HBO premier of the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.” Per the press release:

Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a coverup that winds its way from our hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches, all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. By investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused over 200 deaf children in a school under his control - St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis - the film shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that, because they stand for good, they can do no wrong.

The film, the release of the LA documents, the attorneys-general and grand jury investigations throughout the country, the tenacious and thorough reporting – none would have been possible without the incredible courage of the victims to come forward and tell their stories of the most unspeakable and intimate violations. Many did so even facing ostracism and worse from their families, their friends and communities – not to mention the persecution and humiliation heaped upon them by Catholic officials and attorneys.

We can thank them that people like Jerry Sandusky are no longer protected and that many states are revising their statutes of limitations to make all our children safer.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is so sad. (4+ / 0-)

    The RCC had the potential to do so much good, but they chose the path of power and wealth instead.  Well, if nothing else, they can serve as an example of how NOT to behave.  I fear it's too late for redemption, as they don't appear to recognize that they have done anything wrong.    

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:34:19 AM PST

  •  I didn't realize the Opus Dei angle in this. (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for bringing that out. It casts this in a whole new light.

    I never got the memo that to be considered a "good Catholic" one must be a conservative Republican. Not the Church I grew up in.

    "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" — Isaac Asimov

    by wintergreen8694 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:15:29 AM PST

  •  Betty, can you comment more on: (0+ / 0-)
    First, it is almost (#1) unheard of for a lower cleric or prelate to reprimand a cardinal or even (symbolically) limit his activities. These are actions reserved solely to the pope. Second, (#2) Gomez's statement was made without prior approval from the Holy See. On Friday, Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said “that although he has received several requests for comment from news agencies, there are no plans at this time to issue a statement. Among other things, he said, the Vatican needs time ‘to better understand the situation,’” according to the American Vatican expert, John L. Allen Jr.

    The only news I could find from the usual Italian "Vatican watchers" so far about this was yesterday's article in La Stampa "Los Angeles: The sad duel between Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Gomez," which indicates that the Vatican has not yet backed Gomez.

    That (#1) struck me odd too.  When we realize #2, then the next question is
    Upon whose authority did Gomez do this to Mahony?
    This has all the hallmarks of a shadow (?Opus Dei) government as B16 goes into his dotage focusing more on perfumes made for him and Medici robes as he is shielded by (Opus Dei) Georg Ganswein.

    All Opus Dei priests are sworn in loyalty to obey the head of Opus Dei?  They are, as I understand it, a very authoritarian, hierarchical organization which depends on the strict following of orders.  I would find it hard to understand and believe that Gomez acted without orders from above or on his own initiative.  From Opus Dei.

    So, the papal wars are blazing?  The battle for the next election of a pope has gotten well underway.  Any evidence as to who pulled Gomez' strings?  Because it seems to me, that who/whatever pulled Gomez' strings has declared war on a part of the Vat?

    Thanks.

    ST

    We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

    by SeaTurtle on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:24:07 PM PST

    •  Thanks, Sea Turtle, for getting to the heart of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeaTurtle

      Gomez's actions. As you know, Opus Dei is a group of Catholic plutocrats whose goals are the same as all plutocrats - power through economic hegemony rather than the kings and dictators of old who used armies. The difference between them and others is they want the Catholic church to be their partner in developing a docile and obedient electorate. I don't think there is a "papal war blazing" because no one in the Vatican is challenging their decision to use the release of the horrifying LA archdiocese records to enhance and promote the prestige of Gomez as a leader of Latinos in the US and at the same time use Mahony as an example of what will happen to any US prelate who doesn't uphold the Republican Party. The pope and Vatican are only acquiescing to their master/donors. This was John Paul II's "pact with the devil" - freedom for Poland in return for the neoconservative/plutocratic rule of the Catholic Church.

      •  who are: (0+ / 0-)
        The pope and Vatican are only acquiescing to their master/donors.
        Surely the head of Opus Dei figures in the chain of this command?  Who else specifically, do you think?

        Thanks again.

        We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

        by SeaTurtle on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 07:46:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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