By George Neumayr - The American Spectator on the Web
Reality continues to outpace satire at Cardinal Roger
Mahony's cathedral in Los Angeles. The perplexing cathedral now
boasts one more innovation: a chapel dedicated to honoring "victims
of sexual abuse by priests," reports the Los Angeles Times.
Mahony invited the media to his chapel opening on
Sunday. But he didn't tender an invitation to the honorees. And
they weren't touched. While Mahony "knelt silently in the chapel
in front of television cameras," reports the Times, Mary Grant
of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests "fumed"
outside the church building.
"A public relations stunt," Grant said to
the Times. "Clearly this continues to be about the cardinal
and not the victims
I think Cardinal Mahony knew that if victims
were aware of this ahead of time, they'd be here telling parishioners
that real change needs to happen -- and that the priests who abused
them are not yet behind bars."
Such as accused molester Carl Sutphin, the former
associate pastor of the cathedral. Mahony reluctantly sacked Sutphin,
whom he had brought with him from St. Vibiana's, after Cardinal
Law got popped last year. Sutphin, who lived at the cardinal's residences
long after the cardinal knew of his sexual abuse, is fighting the
molestation charges in court. Making the state prove its case is
part of the "healing process" in the archdiocese. Prosecutors
considered Sutphin a "flight risk," owing to Mahony's
pattern of protecting pedophile priests, and asked the court to
set bail at $500,000. This episode last month resulted, reports
the Ventura County Star, in the following comic exchange at Sutphin's
bail hearing. Judge James Cloninger: "Let me make sure I understand
what you're saying
You're suggesting that the Catholic Church
would help him flee?" Deputy District Attorney Douglas Ridley:
"Yes, that is what I'm suggesting." Cloninger ended up
setting bail at $200,000.
The Los Angeles Times reports that nine "retired
or former priests from the diocese have been charged with crimes
in Los Angeles County, and prosecutors want to see the personnel
files on 31 other priests or church officials who they say are suspected
of abuse." But Mahony is stonewalling them: "Mahony has
argued that he can't turn the files directly over to prosecutors
because of privacy issues."
Stonewall in private, play reformer in public. This
has been Mahony's strategy from the start. Mahony's ludicrous chapel
opening is just the latest empty, con-the-public gesture. Did Sitrick
and Company, the public relations firm Mahony hired last year, conjure
this one up?
Tour guides at the cathedral have their work cut out
for them. "Here we have a chapel dedicated to children raped
by priests Cardinal Mahony reassigned. Here we have names of children
our ex-associate pastor says he can't remember molesting."
No, that won't make the script. Besides, the chapel may not be permanent
anyway. Who knows what new scandals will necessitate new chapels?
Traditional Los Angeles Catholics anxiously await
the creation of a chapel dedicated to the victims of "heresy
and scandal during Cardinal Mahony's tenure." Homosexuals,
such as Archbishop Rembert Weakland's dumped lover, may clamor for
a chapel dedicated to the victims of "disappointing sexual
experiences with Catholic priests." Catholic parents may want
a chapel dedicated to "those who paid $80,000 or more to Catholic
colleges only to have them destroy their children's faith."
Weak cheap shots? Sure. But Mahony is putting a severe
strain on satirists.
There is a serious point here: Mahony should go. He
is ruining the largest archdiocese in the country and dishonoring
victims of abuse with patronizing dishonesty. "We need to get
this resolved," the Times quotes him as saying at the chapel
opening. Does he really want it resolved? If he did, he would stop
stonewalling and quit. And he would encourage everyone else who
participated in the squalid coverups to quit too.
Sitrick-and-company-style stunts are not putting the
scandal behind the Church but in front of it, for everyone but dupes
George Neumayr, a frequent contributor to The American Prowler,
is a writer in southern California.