It’s factually and morally wrong to assume that criminal charges can’t be brought against current and former top LA archdiocesan officials, especially with tens of thousands of church records about to be released.
We aren’t police, prosecutors or even lawyers. But for 25 years, we’ve seen – in the words of Martin Luther King – “the long arc of history bend toward justice.” We’ve seen secular authorities become increasingly assertive and creative and successful in pursuing sophisticated criminals.
Remember one simple fact and one simple adage:
Al Capone was nailed on tax evasion.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The irresponsible assumption that Mahony, Curry and others can’t be prosecuted rests on another irresponsible assumption: that their behavior has changed. Can we be more reckless than to assume that these men - who have repeatedly done serious wrong for decades and have entirely escaped penalties – have magically, completely, and voluntarily reformed?
All the policies and panels and procedures and promises made by church officials don’t change one simple truth – Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Curry and others still have the ability, right now, to do exactly as they’ve done for decades in child sex cases.
Thousands work for the archdiocese. Has even one been disciplined for ignoring, minimizing, or hiding known or suspected child sex crimes? We can’t think of one. So why would any church employee risk their jobs, do something different, and call the police if they think a cleric might be hurting a kid?
Those who think justice can’t be done and things can’t change here should look at history.
More often than we can count, smart church officials and observers pooh-poohed our push for a national church abuse policy. “That will never happen,” we were repeatedly told. “That can’t happen. The church isn’t structured that way.”
Now, there is one.
More often than we can count, smart people laughed at us when we began, years ago, insisting that bishops post the names of proven admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on their websites.
Now, 30 bishops have done this.
More often than we can count, smart people scoffed when we began, years ago, pushing the suspension of statute of limitations deadlines for a year or two.
Now, three states have done this.
We could go on and on and on.
Our point is simple: if you’re serious about protecting kids, you won’t accept the horrific status quo.
On the local level, we’ve seen similar progress and achievements that few would have ever thought possible:
--In Massachusetts, a predator priest was prosecuted under a law passed in the 1800s.
--In Ohio, a predator priest was nailed on one count of providing alcohol to minors.
--Dozens of predator priests have been captured in remote places and extradited to face justice back in the nation where they assaulted kids.
--A number of predator priests were given probation and are now behind bars because they violated the restrictions they were to honor.
Yes, these are predator priests, not complicit bishops. But even some members of the Catholic hierarchy have been prosecuted for concealing child sex crimes – Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City, Msgr. William Lynn in Philadelphia, and Bishop Pierre Pican in France.
As kids, many of us were told by our perpetrators “If you speak up, nothing will happen.”
Yet as adults, many of us have spoken and are speaking. As a result, thousands of predator priests have been exposed, suspended, charged, convicted, jailed and defrocked.
Now, we’re being told “Despite your speaking up, with the real culprits – the men who enabled your horror - nothing will happen.”
That just can’t be. We cannot let this happen.
When wrongdoing is ignored, wrongdoing is repeated. We urge law enforcement and government officials to help us end this repetitive cycle now.