August 15, 2007
To the Editors:
Your editorial “$660 Million” reflects a narrow and very deficient comprehension of the complete picture in the Los Angeles settlement. The focus on the amount of the settlement and the notion that it will seriously limit the Church’s mission to the needy of the archdiocese is clearly misleading. Your readers should be aware of the fact that Cardinal Mahony has used tens of millions of dollars donated to the archdiocese to pay his many attorneys to create every type of roadblock imaginable to any form of settlement of the lawsuits. It must also be said that the primary reason the lawsuits were even filed is because the victims had experienced severe frustration in their efforts to receive justice or compassionate care from the Church. These men and women, their families and their supporters are indeed among the neediest of the needy in Los Angeles.
The monetary drain to the Archdiocese is nothing compared to the devastation experienced by the victims and their families. No one in the archdiocesan administration, especially Cardinal Mahony, ever made any effort to assess the spiritual and emotional damage done to the many abused by the clergy. The Cardinal’s published visits with eighty or so victims were for public relations and legal purposes and certainly not an expression of authentic pastoral concern. The public apologies served as a thin mask for the continued brutal efforts of the Cardinal’s attorneys to de-value the victims and minimize the unspeakable damage done because the official church “didn’t care.”
This editorial and the recent article by Mark Sargent are uncharacteristic of Commonweal’s image as an honest and independent review. Both have unduly focused on money, both have not only trivialized but insulted victims and both have displayed an attitude towards the clergy sex abuse tragedy that can be described as naive and seriously limited. If Commonweal wants to serve the needy in the Church, publish articles or editorials that reflect an awareness of the complete and painful truth of this terrible nightmare.
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