"As many as a dozen Southern California priests who were involved in past sexual abuse cases have been directed by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to retire or otherwise leave their ministries," reports the "Los Angeles Times."
Mahony had to have known about these pedophiles for years. Why his sudden attack of conscience? Probably because, like every other corrupt bishop in America, Mahony sees the posse closing in. His back -- or whatever it is he calls a spine -- has hit the wall.
Mahony's hasty dumping of pedophiles reveals the dishonorable modus operandi of some in the American episcopate: Protect pedophiles until you feel politically and legally unprotected yourself, then cut and run.
Had the Boston scandal not occurred, would Mahony and others be cutting these pedophiles priests loose? No. They only do so now because they can no longer get away with harboring them.
Such unprincipled, self-serving decision-making illustrates the extent to which the America Catholic church rots from the head down. The pedophilia problem did not happen in a doctrinal and disciplinary vacuum; it happened in large part because the American bishops knowingly permitted a libertine and dysfunctional culture into the church. In the name of "tolerance" and "liberal progress," bishops ordained men with checkered sexual histories -- and then used relativistic theology and psychology to justify their atrocious judgment. Only now, as lawsuits and bad press inconvenience them, do they pull the plug on their irresponsibility.
Mahony has advanced this permissive culture deep into the Los Angeles archdiocese. Among other things, he has given an openly homosexual priest an official platform from which to soft-pedal sexual sin, hired legions of critics of traditional Catholic moral teachings, and allowed St. John's, the seminary for his archdiocese, to act as a conveyor belt of scandal, heresy, and radicalism in the church.
Mahony's protection of pedophiles predates his arrival in Los Angeles. The "Los Angeles Times" failed to note in Monday's story that Mahony allowed a pedophile to serve a parish in Stockton, California, in the 1980s. (Mahony served as bishop of Stockton before assuming the leadership of the Los Angeles archdiocese.)
Mahony's negligence (along with the negligence of two other bishops) cost the Stockton archdiocese $30 million after two brothers sued the pedophile priest, Father Oliver O'Grady. Deposed in this case, Mahony claimed ignorance of the numerous charges against O'Grady, but admitted he had sent him to a psychiatrist before reassigning him. Mahony said he felt "professional counselors and psychiatrists were capable of helping these people." This prince of the church just passed the buck to the diocese's psychiatrists: "If there's a suspicion or a problem, we refer it to competent professionals to assist in making a decision. If the competent professionals do not raise any flags or concerns, then we rely on their judgment."
Mahony, since that admission, has sought to avoid such embarrassing and revealing depositions. In a recent molestation case, involving a priest nicknamed "Father Hollywood" who had received his training at St. John's Seminary, Mahony settled out of court the day before his scheduled deposition.
Mahony slithered out of another deposition earlier this year when the Diocese of Tucson settled a molestation case that involved an Arizona priest accused of, among other acts, molesting children at Mahony's seminary. The victims in that case said they had been abused at St. John's Seminary after a visit to its "Come and See Program," a day with the ironically accurate purpose of giving young boys a sense of the modern priesthood.
Will Mahony's opportunistic dismissal of pedophiles this week save his skin again? Maybe not. Some obvious questions could trip him up, such as: How could a bishop who stated in 1988 that he would "never deal with a problem of sexual abuse on the part of a priest or deacon by simply moving him to another ministerial assignment" just now be releasing as many as 12 pedophiles? What did he know? When did he know it? And why didn't he inform the authorities?
Expect Mahony, if he even bothers to answer these questions (usually a publicity hog, he has made himself scarce to reporters in recent days), to hide behind lawyers and "doctors" again.
But Mahony must be held accountable. This much is clear: If the Pope wishes to restore credibility to the church in America, he must demand the resignation of derelict churchmen like Mahony. On their watch, the American church became a playground for pedophilia.
The new "zero tolerance" policy for pedophile priests must also extend to the bishops who hid them.