The brave and persistent survivors who fought to get these records uncovered and the truth made public deserve praise for their courage and constancy. We thank them for leading the fight to make the truth known about what Church officials in Los Angeles knew about clergy abuse, and what they did to prevent this information from being made public.
Thanks are also due to their families who supported them and the advocates who helped them. Victims of abuse often need a good support system, and these families and advocates have provided a great one. We thank them deeply for their unwavering commitment to the victim that they supported.
There are four parts here: Gomez, Mahony, Curry and the files. . .
Archbishop Gomez refuses to act decisively to prevent future cover ups. There are three problems with his alleged 'restriction' of his predecessor.
First, his predecessor is already retired. Second, Catholic bishops have long claimed they'd 'restrict' wrongdoers - like child molesting clerics. But they rarely follow through. And third, this virtually meaningless move will likely have zero impact. It won't make a single Catholic official - now or in the future - to start acting with courage and compassion and honesty in clergy sex cases. It's like a band aid on cancer.
Gomez could have made a real difference. Instead, he made an insignificant gesture. And he made this symbolic gesture ONLY AFTER DOCUMENTS WERE PUBLICLY EXPOSED.
(Some will call his move "unprecedented." Just because something seems new doesn't mean it will be effective. If kids are ever going to be really safer in the church, we must stop judging behavior with the wrong standard - whether it's happened before or not. We must judge it by this simple, common sense criteria - will it actually change the long-standing and irresponsible and self-serving actions of deeply entrenched, secretive church officials. That's what matters.)
In addition to his alleged ‘restriction’ of Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop Gomez has accepted Bishop Thomas Curry’s resignation.
Cardinal Bernard Law resigned for the same reasons. Over the years, across the globe, ten or twelve other complicit bishops have also resigned (Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field in Ireland, for example). And it’s made very little - if any – difference.
Let’s call a spade a spade here: Mahony are Curry are powerful prelates. They remain powerful prelates. Their selfish and secretive actions directly led to heinous child sex crimes by dozens of clerics against hundreds of children. Most of these hundreds of sex offender clerics walk free today. Many live and work among unsuspecting neighbors and colleagues. Some have evaded the police (likely with the help of Mahony and Curry and others). Some are almost certainly sexually assaulting kids today, especially those who have fled to developing countries.
In response, Gomez tells Curry “Let’s move you to a lower stress job with the same pay.” And he tells Mahony “No more church ribbon-cutting ceremonies for you for a while.”
That’s neither justice nor deterrence.
Again, Gomez could have made a real difference here. Instead, he made an insignificant gesture.
Now, regarding the files.
We beg every adult in the LA area to read them carefully and discuss them widely. But take advantage of the objective, user-friendly website BishopAccountability.org. That’s where there will be helpful links and context, not archdiocesan spin.
The more people understand who and why this on-going crisis, the safer kids will be.
Finally, a word about wording. Archbishop Gomez deliberately misconstrues and minimizes this horror when he uses phrases like “failure.” Virtually none of this is a “failure.”
You can’t fail unless you try. And top Catholic officials didn’t try to call 911 but accidently misdialed. They didn’t try to warn parishioners but accidently run out of ink when printing the notices. They didn’t try to protect kids but inadvertently end up protecting pedophiles.
These are smart, careful men with considerable resources and savvy advisors and shrewd lawyers and experienced public relations professionals. They didn’t try to do right but end up doing wrong. They tried to safeguard themselves and their comfort, reputations, careers and power. For decades, they succeeded. Their reputations are sullied, to be sure. But they’re still largely still coming out on top here.
And that’s what Archbishop Gomez’ paltry step – allegedly ‘restricting’ Mahony – ensures. That’s why it will have little impact. That’s why the crisis continues.
And that’s why we plead with law enforcement – local and federal – to aggressively, creatively and persistently do what we victims cannot do – use subpoenas, empanel grand juries, launch or expand investigations, and do everything possible to charge at least one member of the LA Catholic hierarchy with at least a tiny fraction of the crimes that have been committed by complicit church officials.
That’s what will make a difference – when the prison door slams shut behind a bishop, monsignor or other church supervisor who put his selfish needs ahead of kids’ safety.
(How has Archbishop Gomez himself dealt with abuse cases? Poorly. Get details here: http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_statements/2010_statements/040610_new_archbishop.htm )