St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Friday, February 1, 2013

Enough Is Enough, Cardinal Mahony!

I'm not one to publicly criticize bishops.  In fact, I usually detest it and encourage others to not do so.  Usually...but not this time; although it helps that Roger Cardinal Mahony is retired.

In case you're not familiar with what I'm eluding to, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has publicly announced that his predecessor Cardinal Mahony will "no longer have any administrative or public duties."  Abp Gomez has also announced that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry (who was then Vicar for Clergy under Cardinal Mahony) has been granted his request "to be relieved of his responsibility" as Episcopal Vicar for the Archdiocese's Santa Barbara region.  This happened after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was court ordered to release 30,000 pages of it's clergy sex-abuse files this past week.  As far as I know, a diocesan bishop publicly relieving his predecessor (who's a cardinal) and an auxiliary bishop at the same time are unprecedented.  You can read Archbishop Gomez's statement here.

Perhaps relieving is not the right term to use.  Since the announcement was made, I've been searching through Canon Law.  While it specifically doesn't address a bishop emeritus (fancy name for retired bishop), it seems that any duties that a titular bishop (a bishop who isn't the head of a diocese) has within the diocese are granted by the diocesan bishop and therefore can be removed by him, but only the pope alone has the ability to accept a bishop's resignation. It seems Abp Gomez has the ability to significantly limit Bp Curry's diocesan abilities until that happens, but can't relieve any of the auxiliary bishop's faculties in the way he can if he were a priest. Since Roger Mahony is a cardinal, Abp Gomez can only prohibit him from the archdiocesan duties that had previously asked him to do. Only the pope can prevent him from participating in a papal conclave, and only the pope can remove his faculties.  (Canon lawyers and other smart people, please correct me if I have any of that wrong.)  In fact, I just saw that Abp Gomez released this statement today which clarifies the canonical status of the two bishops.

Back to my point. As a devout Catholic and father of small children, the whole thing sickens me.  The sexual abuse of minors by clergy sickens me.  The fact that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has 30,000 pages of documentation on clergy sexual abuse sickens me.  The fact that Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry covered so much of it up sickens me.  The fact that Archbishop Gomez had to take action against two other bishops sickens me. 

Want to know what really sickens me?  That Cardinal Mahony released a public letter to Archbishop Gomez in response to the matter.  Seriously Cardinal?  The people have had enough! You've been relieved of any diocesan duty so, your eminence, please just go away quietly.  At the very least, you made some very bad decisions when you were Archbishop of Los Angeles; at the very most you should have been criminally charged and imprisoned.  Either way, a lot of people have been hurt by your actions, and the largest archdiocese in the United States that was entrusted to you for over 25 years will be cleaning up from your episcopacy for years to come.  The only reason you're still in good standing is because Abp Gomez doesn't have the authority to say otherwise.

Archbishop Gomez, thank you for your transparency and cooperating with exposing this evil.  Only by bringing our sins to the light can we begin to move forward.  

Bless our victims, forgive our sins, and help your Church, Lord.

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