Support for abuse victims – the Catholic Way

In the past few years, it has become an undeniable fact of the Catholic Church that paedophile priests have been shuffled around and supported by the hierarchy, while victims have only been recognized after prolonged investigations and/or  litigation. Recently, the former Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony was supposedly punished by his successor for his role in the massive coverup. Mahony was behind the fight to prevent the release of documents that described the protection of priests.

Archbishop Gomez noted that “effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony” – who served the archdiocese from 1985 to 2011 – “that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.”

But how was Mahony punished? What does it mean to have his administrative or public duties curtailed? Not only has he continued to hold Mass, but he retains his status as cardinal. Next month he will be on his way to Rome to pick Ratzinger’s successor.

“I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor,” Mahony wrote.

Victims and their supporters are against this move.

Manuel Vega, a retired Oxnard police officer who as an altar boy was molested from the age of 12 to 15 by Father Fidencio Silva, said Mahony would bring shame on the Catholic Church by going to Rome to vote.

“Mahony is going without clean hands. His hands are dirty … from covering up years of sexual abuse. How can he be part of the conclave?” Vega asked.

On the other side, some support his attendance.

Jane Argento, a parishioner at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena, said she was livid at Mahony when she read about his actions after the archdiocese’s release of sex abuse documents. But she said the relatively liberal Mahony reflected her own Catholic convictions about larger roles for women in the church, among other issues. Mahony, she said, was the architect of a pastoral associate program in Los Angeles that had trained several women to run parishes, including her own.

“I’m relieved that Mahony is going,” Argento said. “Frankly, it’s one more vote for a more progressive church.”

Training women balances out fucking kids? That’s a progressive agenda.

Larry Loughlin, 77, a parishioner and social worker, said it was reasonable that Mahony vote, given church rules, and that he was not the only cardinal accused of failing to remove predatory priests from churches and schools. Others include Cardinal Justin Regali, who was accused of ignoring evidence of sex abuse, including rape, in the Philadelphia archdiocese before retiring in 2011.

“Mahony is not the only cardinal to be accused of protecting priests, it is a worldwide crisis,” Loughlin said.

The correct response here is Mahony should stay home and so should the others.

Father Thomas Rausch of Loyola Marymount University said Mahony has no choice in the matter: Church law requires him to vote, along with all cardinals under age 80, he said.

“It is a sacred responsibility of every cardinal of the church who is able to attend the conclave to vote,” said Tod Tamberg, archdiocese spokesman….

Rausch said he hoped that Mahony would bring to the conclave a deeper understanding of the American church and its more collaborative working style….

“What I’d hope the cardinal would bring is a less top-down, more consultative style of church governance,”…

Father Thomas Reese of Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center said he did not believe that Mahony’s troubles in Los Angeles would diminish his influence in Rome, where his one vote would carry as much weight as any other cardinal’s. He said he hoped Mahony would make sure that discussions about the next pontiff include a full understanding of the sex abuse crisis and a greater sensitivity to Latin America and immigrant issues.

It’s no secret that I am a severe critic of the Catholic church, especially in their antiquated concepts of morality, and their insistence that the whole world follow their preaching. As long as people like Mahony are involved in choosing the next leader, there is not much chance of a modernization in their views.

In time, I expect to hear that the Catholic Church was morally opposed to child abuse since the beginning.

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