Mahony's Speaking, but He's Still Silent

By Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2006,1,2296251.column?coll=la-news-columns

It must have been an oversight.

In his zeal early Friday morning to call reporters and take bows for the $60-million settlement with 45 victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony forgot to give me a ring.

Then again, it seems as though victims and their attorneys didn't get a call either. They say they hadn't fully signed off on the deal yet, so they were surprised to wake up to news that Mahony had cranked up his PR machine.

Had he called me, I surely would have congratulated His Eminence when he said, "The sexual abuse of minors is both a sin and a crime, and there is no place in the priesthood for those who have abused children."

Oh, all right, so I might not have congratulated him. But I would have had a few questions:

Are you really going to keep laying all the blame on clergy and none on church leaders who protected molesters for years?

Do you expect anyone to believe the settlements were for the benefit of victims, who have been ignored and legally rebuffed for decades, rather than to make sure embarrassing details of church business — particularly the cases that occurred on your watch — don't end up on public display in court?

Are you in any position to discuss reckoning and atonement up there at the Rog Mahal after going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep a lid on the files of priests involved in a criminal investigation?

"This is very important for us," Mahony told one of my Times colleagues in announcing settlements averaging $1.3 million in the first of hundreds of cases. He also said files in other cases have been turned over to a retired judge who will decide which records, if any, will be made public.

We could all say a rosary before breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it'll still take a miracle and a month of novenas to get full disclosure out of this guy.

If Friday's development didn't sound enough like a business decision, Mahony said that all the cases not covered by insurance have now been disposed of. And as for the rest?

"It is my hope that these insurance companies will join all of us in moving steadily toward a final settlement of these cases as soon as possible."


Please do not stop feeding the Sunday basket. We promise it won't go toward paying the cost of scandal, which we are praying we can pawn off on the insurance companies.

Mahony said the settlements signified "a very special time for the victims."

With all due respect, is there anyone less qualified to speak for the victims? Even the national review board appointed by U.S. bishops slammed Mahony for stubbornly withholding records while victims awaited justice.

"How big a price can you put on rape, and on spiritual, emotional and mental deterioration for 12-, 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls for generations?" asked Santa Paula resident Eric Barragan, whose case was one of those settled Friday.

Now 31, Barragan was molested by a priest at 12.

"I'm surprised Cardinal Mahony is taking so much credit for something that should have been taken care of long ago," said Barragan.

"I need him to publicly acknowledge and apologize to all victims and their families, not through the press, but in person and at each church where the priests worked. He needs to get on his knees and ask forgiveness in every church where people have placed faith in him."

Amen, brother.

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