Uh-oh. This is getting ugly folks. Cardinal Mahony posted a letter to Abp. Gomez on his own personal blog. In the letter he says two things that jump out at me.
1) Nobody ever told him how to deal with sexual abuse and all the experts of the time appear to be very wrong.
And I totally understand that. I even sympathize with it a little. But on the other hand his defense that this is the way everyone dealt with it back then and we didn’t know any better doesn’t really cut it. Did he think that everyone in the Church who was raked over the coals for this in recent years was somehow evil whereas he is only misunderstood? Does he believe he should be exempt from the public scorn that has been heaped on many Church officials in recent years? Here’s the thing, whether there was a misunderstanding or not, those children who were being victimized needed a hero. Someone to step up and protect them. Cardinal Mahony didn’t do it. Yes, he may have followed the “best practices” of the time that so many others did but what we as Catholics are called to do is more. We must protect the defenseless, not merely take a defensible position.
2) Cdl. Mahony takea a shot at Abp Gomez. And he does it in a way that’s pretty icky. He directs his ire at Abp. Gomez in the letter by saying he’d never once raised a question about the policies in the past so why now hmmmm? But he begins by saying, “I have been encouraged by others to publish it, so I am do so on my personal Blog. I hope you find it useful.” Oh, so it’s not his fault he’s publishing this attack on Abp. Gomez. He’s just doing it because soooooooo many have encouraged him to do so.
I think Cardinal Mahony has grown very accustomed to being adored. I believe he’s fighting for his reputation. I don’t believe this letter helped.
I’ve got the letter below in full. The Anchoress does a wonderful job criticizing the letter so you should check that out as well.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Archbishop Gomez:
In this letter I wish to outline briefly how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and I responded to the evolving scandal of clergy sexual misconduct, especially involving minors.
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.
Shortly after I was installed on September 5, 1985 I took steps to create an Office of the Vicar for the Clergy so that all our efforts in helping our priests could be located in one place. In the summer of 1986 I invited an attorney-friend from Stockton to address our priests during our annual retreat at St. John’s Seminary on the topic of the sexual abuse of minors. Towards the end of 1986 work began with the Council of Priests to develop policies and procedures to guide all of us in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct. Those underwent much review across the Archdiocese, and were adopted in 1989.
During these intervening years a small number of cases did arise. I sought advice from several other Bishops across the country, including Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, and then Bishop Adam Maida of Green Bay. I consulted with our Episcopal Conference frequently. All the advice was to remove priests from active ministry if there was reasonable suspicion that abuse had occurred, and then refer them to one of the several residential treatment centers across the country for evaluation and recommendation.
This procedure was standard across the country for all Arch/Dioceses, for School Districts, for other Churches, and for all Youth Organizations that dealt with minors. We were never told that, in fact, following these procedures was not effective, and that perpetrators were incapable of being treated in such a way that they could safely pursue priestly ministry.
During the 1990s our own policies and procedures evolved and became more stringent. We had learned from the mistakes of the 1980s and the new procedures reflected this change. In 1994 we became one of the first Archdioceses in the world to institute a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board [SAAB] which gave helpful insights and recommendations to the Vicar for the Clergy on how to deal with these cases. Through the help of this Board, we moved towards a “zero tolerance” policy for clergy who had allegations against them which had proven true.
In 2002 we greatly expanded the SAAB group into the new Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board. They were instrumental in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and served as an invaluable body for me and our Archdiocese. They dealt with every case with great care, justice, and concern for our youth.
From 2003 to 2012 the Archdiocese underwent several Compliance Audits by professional firms retained for this purpose. Most Auditors were retired FBI agents, and extremely competent. Every single Audit concluded that the Archdiocese was in full compliance with the Charter.
When you were formally received as our Archbishop on May 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth. You became our official Archbishop on March 1, 2011 and you were personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012—again, in which we were deemed to be in full compliance.
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.
I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s. I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.
Unfortunately, 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.
With every best wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles