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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Cardinal Mahony


April 8, 2005

Cardinal Roger Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles

Dear Cardinal Mahony:

Many times we've stood outside your cathedral, publicly urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Today, we will stand outside your cathetral again, this time urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Boston Archdiocese, and indeed, the whole country.

We will also urge you to help heal the wounds of hundreds of thousands of Catholics who are frustrated and embarrassed by the insensitivity of church officials - both in Rome and in the US - and who deserve, at this historic moment, some escape from the "poster child" of complicit bishops, Cardinal Bernard Law.

Cardinal Mahony, you are the "dean" of the American Catholic cardinals, representing the largest archdiocese in America. In that role, and in your role as a shepherd, a pastor and a priest, we emphatically urge you to do what's right - and speak out against Cardinal Law's shameless self-aggrandizing.

It's been reported that Law is scheduled to say special mass for the Pope this Monday. And last Sunday, he gave an extensive interview to ABC news about the Pope, while steadfastly refusing to comment on the horrific church sex abuse crisis in which he played such a key role.

From our perspective, Law is exploiting this sad time for his own selfish rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight.

Law should have the courtesy, decency, and humility to step aside voluntarily, out of deference to the well-being of clergy sex abuse victims, their loved ones, and the laity in the US.

If he genuinely wants to honor the Pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recluse himself from any other public role in the days and weeks again.

But the issue really isn't his behavior. It's the stunning and inexcusable silence by Law's brother prelates.

Vatican officials should prevail upon Law to stop rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of the American church and the hundreds of men and women whose faith has been stolen and whose pain is still crippling because of Law's abusive clerics. They should never have chosen him and they should now ask his to step aside.

Bishops and cardinals across the globe, especially in America, should also forcefully speak out now on behalf of the wounded, and insist that Law put the memory of John Paul II and the needs of Catholics and clergy abuse victims above his own self-aggrandizement.

It's especially fitting and important that American bishops and cardinals show some spine and some principles now, and speak out.

And among all the American bishops and cardinals, you should lead the way. In 2002, you told the LA Times, when asked about the pressure on Cardinal Law to resign, “I don't know how I could face people. I don't know how I could walk down the main aisle of the church myself comfortably, interiorly, if I had been [guilty] of grave neglect."

On Monday night, Law will again "walk down the aisle," this time in a more exalted setting, in Rome He will act as if thousands have been magically healed or that the sex abuse cover-up never happened.

Sadly, no church leader has tried to stop this or denounce this. It is time for you and your fellow American cardinals to step up to the plate, and find the courage (as so many brave victims have done) to confront wrongdoing. The code of silence with which church officials shelter even the most egregious among themselves must be broken.

This is about preventing more preventable pain, not about punishing a man who has already caused or helped cause hundreds of shattered lives. We seek these things out of compassion for the victims of rape and sodomy by clergy, not out of anger toward the hierarchy.

Cardinal Law is correct when he says this is the time to "focus" on Pope John Paul II. Thousands of caring Catholics and wounded victims, however, find it hard to keep that focus when Law is apparently using the Pope's passing to try and rehabilitate himself much like Richard Nixon did after Watergate.

You can try to stop this hurtful move. You can speak out against it, regardless of whether anyone eventually listens. We implore you to do both.

David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915

Barbara Blaine
President, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 6416
Chicago IL 60680
312 399 4747

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688

Mary Grant

Western Regional Director, SNAP

(626) 419-2930 cell

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests