The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 3, 2010
For more information: David Clohessy (314) 566-9790 cell, Joelle Casteix (949) 322-7434 cell
LA Catholic cardinal should be disinvited, SNAP says
Clergy sex victims want Los Angeles Cardinal “un-invited”
Controversial prelate leads big event in Stockton this weekend
Support group urges local bishop to rescind welcome for scandal-laden church official
A self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking Stockton's Catholic bishop to rescind an invitation to Los Angeles’ controversial Cardinal Roger Mahony to lead a mass this weekend.
In a letter sent today to Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, leaders of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org) are urging Blaire to revoke permission to let Mahony lead a special service in Stockton on Sunday in honor of the procession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of North America.
The group says honoring Mahoney is “sad and reckless.”
Mahony is under fire by victims' groups for refusing to release thousands of pages of secret personnel documents about predator priests, as required by his $660 million settlement with more than 500 victims of child sexual abuse. Victims also criticize him for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees since 2007 to fight the release of the documents that show how clerics sexually abused kids and how church officials knowingly covered up for abuse.
Mahony was Stockton’s bishop before being promoted to head the much larger Los Angeles archdiocese.
"Mahony protected serial predators in Stockton while leading the children of the diocese to spiritual slaughter,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP. “He acted no more compassioinately or openly in Los Angeles. So giving him public honors like this is wrong and dangerous. Why? Because ignoring horrendous misdeeds essentially encourages more horrendous misdeeds.”
Mahony's complicity in the cover-up of child sexual abuse in Stockton is well-documented, Blaine says.
In the Academy-award-nominated documentary "Deliver Us from Evil," Mahony's personal role in the cover-up of the crimes of serial pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady is chronicled through court documents, victims' stories and Mahony's own sworn depositions. O'Grady was eventually convicted of sexual abuse, but only after O'Grady allegedly sexually abused dozens of children in and around Stockton. Http://www.amazon.com/deliver-us-evil-oliver-ogrady/dp/b000nivjh2
Mahony later admitted under oath that he dismissed other Stockton clerics for sexually abusing children without informing law enforcement and allowed them to flee back to Mexico. Http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2004_07_12/2004_12_11_lattin_cardinalmahony.htm
“Every time a complicit church official is honored, it discourages victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from exposing predators, warning parents and protecting kids,” Blaine emphasized. “Giving corrupt men like Mahony praise and visibility contributes to the already strong sense of powerlessness that many who saw, suspected and suffered clergy sex crimes feel. It decreases the chances they'll find the courage and hope needed to speak up about horrific wrongs. So it basically sanctions the concealing of sexual assaults against children."
Since Mahony was promoted to the Los Angeles archdiocese, he has been accused of allowing numerous perpetrators continued access to children, including now-convicted former priest Michael Baker, who told Mahony in 1985 that he had sexually abused children. Mahony allowed Baker to remain in ministry until 2000. Http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-mahony-church-abuse,0,7196640.story
"The crimes of Stockton and Los Angeles have been shown to the world," Blaine said. "Must he really be honored in the diocese where he allowed dangerous men to hurt dozens of children?"
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by fax and e mail to Bishop Blaire, is below:
Dear Bishop Blaire:
We understand that Cardinal Roger Mahony is a high ranking church official. We understand that during his career, he’s done much for farmworkers, especially during his time in Stockton. We also understand that many of your flock like and respect him.
Nevertheless, we ask you to put aside his popularity, and focus instead on two groups of people who have been directly affected by Cardinal Mahony: the thousands of men and women who have been sexually assaulted by clergy and further betrayed by bishops, and the millions of Catholics who have been betrayed by powerful prelates like Mahony.
For their sake, and for the sake of still-vulnerable children within the church, we respectfully but urgently ask that you dis-invite Mahony from this weekend’s festivities.
Mahony's complicity in the cover-up of child sexual abuse in Stockton is well-documented. The same is true of his equally disturbing track record in Los Angeles.
But even if you disagree, you must realize that our perception is shared by thousands of still-wounded child sex abuse victims and millions of still-hurting Catholic parishioners. Personally, you may think the world of Mahony. But surely you realize that inviting him into your diocese will rub salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of many, many people. And, even more important, it will surely make it less likely that those with information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups will come forward and report to law enforcement.
In light of this, is it worth taking this risk and hurting this many?
Every time a complicit church official is honored, it discourages victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from exposing predators, warning parents and protecting kids. Giving corrupt men like Mahony praise and visibility contributes to the already strong sense of powerlessness that many who saw, suspected and suffered clergy sex crimes feel. It decreases the chances they'll find the courage and hope needed to speak up about horrific wrongs. Essentially, it sanctions the concealing of sexual assaults against children.
Please, Bishop, for the protection of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded, reconsider and rescind your invitation to Mahony.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests