Cardinal Mahony Should Stop Whining

MahonyIn the past few weeks, Los Angeles has been awash with news about decades of priest abuse after of the release of thousands of internal documents from the local Catholic archdiocese showing that former Archbishop (now Cardinal) Roger Mahoney had shielded abuser priests from law enforcement. In response, current L.A. Archbishop José Gomez relieved Mahony of all administrative and public duties and forced the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, Mahoney’s former vicar of clergy, who was part of the coverup. Despite the overwhelming evidence of how he protected priests from prosecution, Mahoney now whines on his blog about his own victimization.

Cardinal Mahony’s recent blog posts follow the typical pattern we have seen for decades–namely, a predator abuses, an enabler (usually the bishop) helps to shield and then transfers the predator. When they are found out, they both claim to be the victims.

I first saw this pattern in my own case in the 1980s when my perpetrator [a priest] cried “victim” as he was exposed to his superiors. However, they already knew of his abuses. The provincial and bishop claimed to be helpless to deal with my perpetrator and pretended to be victims alongside me. Apparently, my perpetrator had promised them that he wouldn’t do “it” anymore, they claimed that they trusted him and felt betrayed.

The 1990s saw more of this behavior from many perpetrators and bishops, including Mahony. He met with SNAP members [the author is founder and president of SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests] in 1992, later claiming it was the most moving experience of his career. He pretended that he and other bishops now understood abuse, and henceforth would remove predators from ministry.

Then in 2002 we witnessed all bishops purporting to be “victims,” and watched as they committed to an alleged new resolve. They spouted pledges of “zero tolerance” and “transparency.” They claimed they were victims because they didn’t know any better and were ill-equipped to deal with the deceitful and conniving predators. Mahony himself was right out there in front, as if claiming to be a hero of the cause.

Now, in 2013, Mahony is still harping on his “victim” position. He was removed from all public duties last month following the release of tens of thousands of court documents showing that, under his administration, top church officials concealed sex crimes from police. He claimed he didn’t know better and said he had only begun meeting with survivors in 2006. (Seems he forgot the meetings with us in ’92 and again in ’02.)  He blogs about he has been publicly humiliated.

Even worse, Cardinal Mahony blogged on Monday about how “difficult” it is for him to “never rationalize … never protest misunderstandings, and never get angry because of false accusations.”

The irony here is that no Catholic official in the U.S. has worked harder or spent more money to rationalize decades of irresponsible actions than Mahony. Even now, in retirement, he repeatedly uses his blog to defend the indefensible and posture as a victim, heaping more pain on the thousands who have been sexually victimized by 280 L.A. predator priests and several more from his first diocese in Stockton, CA.

These blog posts by Mahony are incredibly insulting because they belittle the woundedness of true victims of sexual violence. Moreover, they beg the question of whether his behavior rises to the level of criminal conspiracy, or aiding and abetting crimes. At a bare minimum, the evidence suggests he failed to report crimes and suspicions that children were in danger. The documents provide an overwhelming amount of evidence that portrays his deliberate actions and strategy to cover up the crimes, shield the predators and ensure that all the cover-up, crimes and conspiracy continue.

Wishing and hoping the prosecutor finds sufficient evidence–and political will–to indict him, finally.

Photo of Cardinal Roger Mahony at a 2008 mass in Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles from Flickr user maveric2003 under license from Creative Commons 2.0