Statement of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Regarding the Los Angeles Times' Coverage of the Lynn Caffoe Case

The Tidings [Los Angeles CA]
March 21, 2007

The Tuesday, March 20th edition of the Los Angeles Times, and subsequent media reports, have wrongly claimed that Cardinal Roger Mahony himself recently wrote two different descriptions of a videotape discovered in 1992, more than a year after he removed Father Lynn Caffoe from ministry based on credible reports of misconduct with minors.

In fact, Cardinal Mahony did not write, edit or otherwise supervise the production of the "proffer" on Lynn Caffoe, as the Los Angeles Times has claimed. The Archdiocese's legal team wrote the proffer as part of a Court-ordered mediation process. The purpose of the proffers was to provide a chronological index of certain important documents in a priest's personnel file, without disclosing content. All the files and documents were entrusted to the Court and reviewed by judges to determine that they were both complete and accurate.

The lawyers who prepared the Caffoe proffer read a memo from Caffoe's personnel file describing a viewing of a videotape, the whereabouts of which had been unknown since 1992. The lawyers understood the description in the memo to involve no touching and they and the judges who reviewed the memo concluded that it therefore involved no sexual activity. And, although some of the boys on the tape were reported to have removed their shirts, none had removed their pants, or exposed themselves in any way, and they were thus described in the proffer as having been fully clothed.

The other document in question is Cardinal Mahony's letter to the Vatican explaining why the Pope should revoke Lynn Caffoe's priesthood. This document, drafted for the purpose of fulfilling Church law requirements for invoking this penalty, described the same content of the videotape more aggressively. Removed shirts were described as "partial nudity," and suggestive sexual comments were described as "criminal" (a "delict") in the context of Church law.

The Los Angeles Times' attempt to harmonize two documents with completely different purposes is not only misleading, it is inconsequential to the goal: removing clergy at once who are credibly accused of sexual misconduct involving minors. Indeed, the Times ignores these most important facts:

Sixteen years ago, Cardinal Mahony swiftly removed Caffoe from ministry after receiving credible reports of misconduct. He sent Caffoe to a psychologist for an initial assessment. The psychologist filed a Suspected Child Abuse Report, thus notifying law enforcement. Cardinal Mahony barred Caffoe from further ministry. A short time later, Caffoe disappeared from the Archdiocese without notice.

Cardinal Mahony's letter to the Vatican seeking the removal of Caffoe from the priesthood successfully persuaded Pope Benedict XVI to approve this penalty against Caffoe in January 2006.


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