The recent revelations of the cover-up of priestly abuse in the Los Angeles diocese by now-retired Cardinal Roger M. Mahony has resulted in him being ‘punished’ by the current archbishop Jose Gomez. However, it does not seem like much of a punishment to outsiders, consisting of him being supposedly ‘stripped of his official duties’. Since Mahony is already retired, it is not exactly clear what he loses.
Archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said that … [Mahony] “remains a priest in good standing, and a cardinal of the church. He can celebrate the sacraments with no restrictions.”
Mahony remains eligible to vote for a new pope until he turns 80, in three years.
At the Vatican, [spokesman, the Rev. Federico] Lombardi noted that the suspension does not affect the “other duties assigned by the pope to Cardinal Mahony in the Curia.”
In other words, the punishment seems like one in name only. But he is still displeased and he is taking a shot at Gomez in return.
On Friday morning on his personal blog, the cardinal posted a private letter he had sent to Gomez in which he explained and defended his track record on abuse. Mahony pointedly noted that Gomez had known everything about the archdiocese’s efforts on abuse since arriving in 2010 as he prepared to take over from Mahony.
“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,” Mahony concluded.
Survivors of the priestly abuse are not impressed with these developments, saying that even these limited actions by Gomez were taken only after the abuses were made public.
“The lesson here for Catholic staff is clear: if you successfully conceal your wrongdoing, you can keep your job. If, however, you fail, there’s an extraordinarily slim chance you might experience some slight consequences,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“Gomez has had these documents for months and known about Mahony’s wrongdoing long before now. And yet Mahony has continued to be an honored prelate and prince of the church,” said Terence McKiernan, head of BishopAccountability.org, also a leading advocacy group on behalf of clergy abuse victims.
It should perhaps be noted that Gomez is “associated with the conservative Opus Dei society and is seen as a loyal defender of orthodoxy”, hardly someone from whom we can expect vigorous prosecution of priestly wrongdoing. The way he ‘punished’ Mahony reminds me of this Monty Python sketch.