Monday, February 4, 2013

Cardinal Roger Mahony: “Nothing in my own Background or Education equipped Me to deal with this Grave Problem”

A day after Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles announced that he had relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of all administrative and public duties, Cardinal Mahony described how he “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,” he said in his open letter to Archbishop Gomez. “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 the late 1980s, “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,” said Cardinal Mahony, who added that he consulted with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, and Bishop Adam Maida, then of Green Bay but later the cardinal archbishop of Detroit. “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.”

Cardinal Mahony added:

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.

Archbishop Gomez also announced that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, at one time Cardinal Mahony’s vicar for clergy, had resigned from his duties as a regional auxiliary bishop. Bishop Curry told the Los Angeles Times that “I do believe that it is a mistake for society to treat this as a 'Catholic Church' problem” rather than as a “society-wide issue.”

“I acted after consultation and consent of the Archbishop [Mahony],” Bishop Curry added. Today, he said he would “be sure to ascertain that the matter had been reported to the secular authorities.”

Archbishop Gomez clarified that both Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry are able to celebrate the sacraments.

“Cardinal Mahony, as Archbishop Emeritus, and Bishop Curry, as Auxiliary Bishop, 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,” he said in a brief statement.