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Dark charges from Mahony's inner circle

Oct 06, 2009

by Lisa Rea.

When I read this column on the clergy abuse scandal written by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times it was like getting an immediate migraine headache. I have followed the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church closely since the first public eruption in 2000/2001. I know I'm not alone. But my interest led me to speak out on this subject publicly because of my deep commitment to restorative justice and its great value to victims of crime and offenders as well. But my passion to do more than speak about it privately to my own circle of friends and family was because this subject mixes abuse of children with faith. Since I am a committed Christian these news stories have appalled me deeply. It has offended me as a Christian. And then there are the victims. 

I first wrote on this subject in November 2002 as I was encouraged by a colleague of mine, a former Catholic, to put my thoughts down on paper. Those thoughts then became an "open letter to the Catholic Church" which were shared, I'm told, with the U.S. Catholic Bishops. The bottom line is that the U.S. Catholic Bishops took a support position adopting restorative justice as a policy position on criminal justice and crime in November 2000. That is little more than a fact at this time since the application of restorative justice is certainly hard to see when looking at the cases in California and and around the country. And that's just the U.S. But I am blogging about this today to applaud Steve Lopez for writing about this topic and this ongoing saga in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the handling of the clergy abuse cases by Cardinal Roger Mahony. He's got guts. People get weary of reading this stories. Maybe they get tired because we're all disgusted. But maybe we don't want to read the stories because no one seems to fix the problem.  

Nevertheless, the facts are there. The victims remain. New victims come forward whether in Los Angeles or in Ireland or somewhere else in the world. Keeping the stories of abuse in front of the public is very important. Hopefully with exposure comes action.  

This new twist of this story is about Monsignor Richard Loomis, a former vicar of clergy for the archdiocese. As you'll read in the link to this blog entry, Loomis has spoken out about what he knows and what he said to Cardinal Mahony and when he said it. The bottom line is there seems to be a paper trail, which seldom, if ever, existed in the past with other cases. I won't get into all the details, you can read it in the column or elsewhere, but it's possible that there might be more "proof" than usual that the archdiocese did not contact the police when it had real evidence that priests were abusing children. How is it we care about some crimes against children but not others?  Does the law apply in some cases but not others?  When a religious institution is involved, like the Catholic Church, do we look the other way? Law enforcement? Politicians?  Well, we know in our American justice system often there is inconsistent application of the law.  Laws differ state to state. Federal law sometimes conflicts with state law.

Wise? No. But it's a fact. My point is that restorative justice seeks fair and balanced justice for all. We who support restorative justice want a system that is just, a system that works, and a system that restores or repairs those injured by crime.  We want a return of shalom after that peace has been broken in our communities. With these cases of clergy abuse there is a need to ferret out the truth. The victims deserve that. I don't care if they were abused 20 years ago or last year. Accountability in our justice system is something we must have.

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Katie says:
Feb 20, 2011 02:40 AM

&nbsp;I am a practicing Catholic, and those of us who remain so, have long ago wanted Roger Mahoney to be dismissed as our Bishop and Cardinal and taken to court, along with the priests that he and others protected. In my 70 years, I have not known of anyone in my school days or in fact, by own children, who have endured abuse in the church, but I know it existed and probably exists. Any abuse in my family happened in other situations, not religious. <br />&nbsp;The magnitude of this problem in the Catholic Church is disgusting, but I fear that the problems in smaller churches and in fact in families, schools and everywhere, is being dismissed in light of the size of the church over the centuries, and the belief that the problem is because of unmarried priests. The problem is widespread and worldwide, and the recent admissions by celebrities proves it. Neither of these were clergy. <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Perhaps with the airing of the problems by a huge institution such as the Catholic Church, it will encourage people to do something, and to teach children that it is OK to tell if someone tries inappropriate behavior. <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I feel horrible for the majority of clergy and faithful in the church who have had to pay for what the hierarchy and some rogue priests have done. Most of all, for children, who were afraid to tell. I also feel bad for the priests who have been accused who were found to be innocent. Human beings are not always so wonderful.

lisa rea
lisa rea says:
Feb 23, 2011 05:35 PM

Thank you for your comments, Katie. You are right that cases of molestation of children happen in many venues---sadly. I continue to work for restorative justice in these cases of abuse by clergy. I believe that offender accountability is key in these cases which would mean direct offender accountability as much as possible. <br /> <br />Many of us who have been working on this issue since at least 2001 believe that it might be time to consider a truth and reconciliation commission inside the Catholic Church. That would apply to much more than the L.A. Archdiocese. It would be global. These conversations have occurred with colleagues in the UK and in Ireland. <br /> <br />It seems to me what is needed is a full accounting for the offenses of the past and moving towards restoration of victims as much as possible. In the recent past the Catholic Church has pointed to the U.S. as an example of how the Church has responded well to its own clergy abuse crisis. I do not agree. Steps have been taken; however, it is not clear that <br />the Church has rooted out all priests to have abused. <br /> <br />Restorative justice, which in the U.S. has been embraced by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, is needed. <br /> <br /> <br />Lisa Rea

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