Levada's arrest & stunning legal maneuver

By David Clohessy

Hundreds and hundreds of abuse survivors have talked with me over the past quarter century about their tough, tough struggles with addictions. So I took no pleasure when I read that the former second-highest ranking Vatican official was arrested in Hawaii on drunk driving charges.

But news reports identify Cardinal William Levada (an LA native who headed dioceses in Portland Oregon and San Francisco) as “the highest ranking American in the Vatican” at one point.

That’s true of course. But he was also head of the CDF, the church bureaucracy that enforces doctrine.

And before he was promoted to this post, he pulled perhaps the most hypocritical legal maneuver I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot).

Here’s ex-LA Times journalist Bill Lobdell’s report:

In 1994, then-Archbishop of Portland William Levada offered a simple answer for why the archdiocese shouldn't have been ordered to pay the costs of raising a child fathered by a church worker at a Portland, Ore., parish.

In her relationship with Arturo Uribe, then a seminarian and now a Whittier priest, the child's mother had engaged "in unprotected intercourse ... when [she] should have known that could result in pregnancy," the church maintained in its answer to the lawsuit.

The legal proceeding got little attention at the time. And the fact that the church -- which considers birth control a sin -- seemed to be arguing that the woman should have protected herself from pregnancy provoked no comment. Until last month.

That's when Stephanie Collopy went back into court asking for additional child support. A Times article reported the church's earlier response. Now liberal and conservative Catholics around the country are decrying the archdiocese's legal strategy, saying it was counter to church teaching.

"On the face of it, [the argument] is simply appalling," said Michael Novak, a conservative Catholic theologian and author based in Washington, D.C.


In public, prelates like Levada say nice things in clergy sexual misconduct cases. But in court, they say anything and everything they can to hide wrongdoing, attack victims and evade responsibility, even when their claims violate Catholic teachings.

If Levada has a drinking problem, I hope he gets help. As for the rest of us, we must work harder and smarter to expose the irresponsible legal tactics Levada and his colleagues continue to use that protect clerics, hurt victims and endanger others.

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