Mahony Conferring Confirmations at Saint Kateri
By Martha Garcia
April 7, 2016
Sex abuse and molestation charges have rocked the Catholic Church for decades. Amid the allegations, one man whose career was tarnished by the scandals was retired L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony.
On April 29, Mahony will confer the sacrament of confirmation to the teen class at Saint Kateri Catholic Church, and many parishioners and community members are outraged.
Brooke Bambrick is among the outraged. Growing up Catholic, her father was a deacon at St. Monica’s. When he found out about the widespread coverups and Mahony’s failure to hold abusers accountable and protect the abused, he decided the family should leave the Catholic Church.
“He thought it was hypocritical of the church,” said Bambrick. “Mahony protected the priests and shuffled them around, that’s a crime, and a crime against kids.”
Now that Mahony is coming to Saint Kateri, she is outraged and believes the church should request another Bishop for the ceremony.
“It is an atrocity that he is able to step foot in a church,” she said. “He ignored the facts and allowed people to do atrocious things to children. The Catholic Church didn’t handle it correctly and he shouldn’t officiate at such a large church here in the valley.”
Objections to Mahony
Julia Carson’s 16-year-old daughter was scheduled to complete her confirmation on April 29. After completing the required volunteer hours and coursework over the past two years at Saint Kateri, Carson decided to have her daughter complete the ceremony at another Catholic parish in Santa Clarita.
“I am really sad about the situation,” said Carson, who requested their real names be withheld. “I couldn’t have her go through with it with Mahony. As far as I’m concerned he’s not supposed to do the sacrament.”
The abuse scandal dragged on for decades from the mid 80s to only a few years ago when priest’s personnel notes and files were made public. In 2013, Archbishop Jose Gomez made a statement revealing Mahony was relieved of any public or administrative duties in the church, including administering the sacrament of confirmation.
“After that another statement was made, he can still do confirmations,” said Associate Director of Media Relations Doris Benavides, in a phone call to the Los Angeles Archdiocese concerning the upcoming event.
Benavides said Mahony still has the rights of a Bishop and performs confirmations at least once a year at various parishes in L.A. County.
“Even if he’s retired, he shouldn’t be allowed to get off that easy,” said Carson. “He shouldn’t have any contact with children or teens for what he did.”
Mahony’s role in covering up the abuse, failing to alert the authorities or offering victim’s names, is widely documented. Despite the culture of coverup that he held while Archbishop of Los Angeles, he was allowed to stay in power during the bulk of the scandal. He retired at 75 and lives in a parish in North Hollywood, continuing to act on behalf of the church.
“I asked the church (Saint Kateri) about it,” said Carson. “They said it was out of their control.”
The archdiocese repeatedly referred any questions be made directly to Saint Kateri. Rene Ruvalcaba, Director of Youth Ministry at Saint Kateri, said bishop delegations for confirmations are assigned by the archdiocese.
“This really touched a chord with families, it is a touchy subject in the church’s past,” said Ruvalcaba. “Ultimately I want all the students to receive the sacrament, whether at our parish or another.”
One family expressed their disapproval of Mahony’s involvement in the upcoming confirmation sacrament. When offered the option to complete the ceremony at another parish in Santa Clarita or the San Fernando Valley, the family opted to leave the program and the church.
Another family was also concerned about the confirmation and Mahony’s role, yet they decided to continue at Saint Kateri. Switching churches and dates ultimately presented an obstacle that couldn’t be worked around.
Breanne, 16, said she was disappointed when her mother made the decision to switch her from Saint Kateri to another church. But understood her parent’s decision and agreed with it.
“I’m bummed I don’t’ get to be with my friends,” said Breanne. “But I think it’s better to be confirmed by someone else who I know respects the church. [Mahony] used the church, hid what others did to hurt teens, instead of respecting God. He shouldn’t have the power to confirm people.”