Saturday, February 02, 2013

Los Angeles: The sad duel between Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Gomez
A day after he was controversially stripped of all public duties, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has responded to his successor Mgr. José H. Gomez, who decided on the cardinal’s removal last Thursday, in light of the umpteenth case of child molestation in the U.S. Catholic Church.
Gomez’s decision to remove Mahony, who was Archbishop of Los Angeles between 1985 and 2011, has very few precedents in as far as cardinals’ dismissals go. One case that comes to mind is that of the Cardinal of Vienna, Hermann Groer who was accused of child molestation. 

The Opus Dei prelate has ordered for the cardinal to be stripped of all public duties following the release of confidential church files, containing documents that show how Mahony and other leaders of the nation's largest Catholic diocese tried to protect as many as 124 priests accused of molesting children, over a long period of time.
Gomez’s move was accompanied by a letter to faithful, in which he admits: “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading.” “The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil. 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.”
Mahony responded with an open letter addressed to Gomez directly, published on his blog, Friday. The former archbishop admits he was not prepared for the explosion of the paedophilia crisis: “Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.  In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children. While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed.”
 In his letter to the diocese, Gomez criticised Mahony for his “failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care.” But the former archbishop defended himself, explaining that he had improved rules and regulations for the protection of minors, adopting increasingly stringent criteria as they were being proposed and that he always found himself in the front line as the U.S. Catholic Church became aware of the extent and seriousness of the situation.
Mahony did not hesitate to have a go at his predecessor: “Not once over these past years (Gomez has been Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles since May 2010, Ed.)did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.”
Mahony concludes by saying he apologised on a number of occasions for the numerous mistakes that were made, particularly during the 80’s.  “Unfortunately, - the letter concludes - 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.”
In a statement published Friday, Gomez seemed to take a slight step back. Both Mahony and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry – whose resignation he had confirmed the day before – “remain bishops in good standing in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Church and to minister to the faithful without restriction," the Archbishop wrote.
Meanwhile, the U.S. press has begun to analyse the mountain of documents – over 12 thousand pages – made available to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. What emerges is a depressingly familiar picture, with paedophile priests being readmitted to their pastoral ministries who were soon declared guilty of fresh abuse against minors. The meticulous efforts to keep incidents secret and conceal evidence went extended to the decision to move some priests away from California to avoid them being interrogated.

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