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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Controversial Catholic official comes to Stockton; Victims object

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

It's very sad to learn of this invitation to Cardinal Mahony. And it's a very reckless move by Stockton Catholic officials.

It's sad because Mahony's role in clergy sex crimes and cover ups has been very widely documented. And it's reckless because ignoring misdeeds essentially encourages more misdeeds.

Every time a complicit church official is honored, it makes children less safe in the church because 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. So it basically sanctions the concealing of sexual assaults against children.

And it rubs salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of abuse victims and betrayed Catholics.

Mahony's admirable advocacy for farm workers doesn't erase his irresponsible, hurtful and deceitful work, over decades, that endangers kids and protects predators.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

Mahony to highlight Guadalupe parade

By Jennie Rodriguez Record Staff Writer November 27, 2010

STOCKTON - The Our Lady of Guadalupe parade illuminates downtown every year with colorful floats, cultural dancers and thousands of spectators. This year, it also will feature the man who started the Stockton tradition.

Celebrating Mass after the Dec. 5 procession will be Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles. He served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton in the early 1980s and will retire early next year, when he turns 75.

The parade is expected to draw about 10,000 people to the streets of central Stockton to watch religious floats from 23 parishes from throughout San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Spanish) commemorates the legend that in 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared on the cloak of a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego. Diego's story helped lead to the spread of Catholicism in Mexico.

"The Latino community is very devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and they have a strong faith in the message of hope that she provides for us Catholics," said Digna Ramirez Lopez, director of Stockton Diocese's Hispanic Ministry. "She represents encouragement to continue the journey toward Jesus Christ."

The Stockton celebration began during Mahony's time as diocese's bishop. Mahony, a longtime critic of anti-immigration measures in the United States, is credited with expanding the Latino outreach efforts of the Catholic Church.

Under his helm, the diocese promoted lay participation by Latinos, started leadership programs and emphasized supporting outreach to migrant farm workers.

"People are very excited that he is coming," Ramirez Lopez said.

"I remember we had a vigil while he was here to pray for those who drowned in the levees while they were chased by the Border Patrol," Ramirez Lopez recalled. "He actually wrote to the immigration office and requested that security be provided to those who are being chased."

As a result, she said, Border Patrol agents now carry safety equipment to save immigrants from drowning.

Controversy also has followed Mahony. He has been accused of moving priests to different churches after learning that they sexually abused children. The 2006 documentary film "Deliver Us From Evil" deals with Mahony's decisions to reassign one particular priest, Oliver O'Grady.

In 2007, Mahony and the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles apologized for abuses involving priests after 508 victims won a record-breaking settlement worth $660 million.

"I obviously was not here, so I cannot speak either for him or for that time," current Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire said. "But I will say this: I have known Cardinal Roger Mahony for a long time, and I do know he has always had the best interest of everyone at heart and that he already was taking leadership in addressing the sex-abuse crisis before many others."

Blaire said Mahony was invited because of his long history of supporting the Latino community and his role in starting the procession tradition.

He said Mahony plans to retire in March 2011. "So we are very happy that he is coming," Blaire said.

Contact reporter Jennie Rodriguez at (209) 943-8564 or jrodriguez@recordnet.com.

Wednesday, Dec. 01, 2010

Mahony to visit Stockton Sunday

By Sue Nowicki snowicki@modbee.com

More than 10,000 people from parishes throughout the Stockton Diocese are expected to participate in the 30th annual procession honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on Sunday.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Diocese will be among them, invited because he began the event 30 years ago when he was the bishop there. He and Bishop Stephen Blaire will celebrate the Mass — mostly in Spanish with some English prayers and readings — at the Stockton Arena after the procession.

"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends," Mahony said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

The event begins at St. Mary's Church in Stockton at noon, with the Mass starting at 2:30 p.m. The annual celebration, which this year will include 23 floats, recalls the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego at Tepeyac, Mexico, in December 1531, when she left her image on his cloak. For 479 years, her image has been a symbol of unity, peace, compassion and hope.

Participating parishes include St. Jude's in Ceres; Holy Family, St. Stanislaus, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph's in Modesto; Sacred Heart in Turlock; St. Mary's in Oakdale; and Sacred Heart in Patterson.

"It's a big event, especially for the Latino community," said Digna Ramirez-Lopez, director of the diocese's Hispanic Ministries.

"The people have a deep faith and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who always unites the people and provides hope. Now, when people are going through difficult situations with economics and losing their homes, losing their jobs, this is a way to know that we may continue to struggle, but it will be better tomorrow."

Event 'unites the diocese'

Mahony said he began the procession after he saw how well-received a similar event was in his former diocese in Fresno.

"It caught on, and I'm very pleased to see it carry on," he said. "It does three things: It celebrates the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a special gift for the Western Hemisphere, not only for individuals but all of us. It provides a grace-connecting point and unites the diocese. And it encourages us to live out our faith in a very meaningful way to attract others to follow Christ."

Mahony was bishop in the Stockton Diocese from 1980 until 1985, when he was named archbishop of the Los Angeles Diocese, the largest in the country. He was elevated to cardinal in June 1991.

While in Stockton, he was a respected but controversial figure for his stand on social justice issues. He worked on behalf of higher pay and better conditions for migrant workers and sanctuary cities for South American immigrants, and he followed Catholic pro-life teachings against abortion, war and capital punishment.

He continued similar projects in Southern California and reached out to the gay community in his early years there.

Overshadowed by scandals

But in the past decade, Mahony's work has been overshadowed by the priest sex abuse scandals in the Stockton, Fresno and Los Angeles dioceses. He was deposed, for example, in lawsuits over the notorious pedophile ex-priest Oliver O'Grady, who still plagues the Stockton Diocese.

And he agreed to pay $660 million from the Los Angeles Diocese in 2007 to 508 people who said they had been abused by priests or other church employees. It was the largest settlement of such cases in the country.

Mahony is scheduled to retire March 1 when he turns 75, the mandatory retirement age, according to papal policy. The next Archbishop of Los Angeles will be José H. Gomez.

"Primarily what I'm looking forward to is to set aside the Big Three: Administration, personnel issues and finance, and just do ministry," he said. "It's like dying and going to heaven."

Mahony said he plans to stay in his native Los Angeles, making hospital visits and focusing on his greatest passion: immigration reform. He also plans to spend more time at his cabin near Fish Camp, which he built with another priest while serving in the Fresno Diocese.

"My hope is to get up there much more frequently," he said. "I especially like the fall and the spring, and I've been too busy at those times of the year to get up there."

Despite Mahony's controversial record, especially on the priest abuse issue, the diocese doesn't expect protests to accompany his first official return to the diocese since the funeral of former Bishop Donald Montrose in 2008.

"I don't," said Ramirez-Lopez. "What I have received so far are phone calls from people who are really pleased and happy that he is coming."

Read more: http://www.modbee.com/2010/11/30/1452113/mahony-to-visit-stockton-sunday.html#ixzz16raJploA


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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