The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is spending a bucketload of Catholic cash on the Catholics Come Home advertising campaign currently running in a number of media markets.
The Church has also spent incredible amounts of Catholic cash on attorneys and public relations firm to suppress, hide, and delay making public what the Catholic hierarchy and their aides and chancery staffs did with their knowledge of sexual abuse of children and minors.
Now in Los Angeles comes the deluge.
The deluge of the documents that as part of the 2007 clergy sexual abuse victims’ $660 million settlement were to be made – and now are being made – public.
But not before the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press joined forces to bring pressure to bear for the agreement for the records to be made public. And not before the Archdiocese of Los Angeles tried a last minute desperate effort to Swiss cheese the documents of the names of those in authority. The ploy didn’t work thanks to a stand-up judge who simply asked the question: don’t Catholics have a right to know what happened in their Church?
Links to Los Angeles document stories:
As the deluge comes, we’ll repeat what we’ve said in this space before – the truth is in the documents.
But there is also danger in the deluge.
Danger that because there are so many documents and so much that was covered up Catholics will shield their eyes while swallowing and spouting the party line that the crisis is history and the Church leads in the protection of children.
We stand this day to say that we believe Catholics should come home – fighting mad, indignant, and with Gospel strengthened spines demanding that the Church rid itself of those who hid criminal actions and on the threshold of certain public exposure chose to clothe themselves as Cardinal Roger Mahony did in the costume of naïveté. Better to be seen as naïve than seen in prison garb.
The documents of the deluge are showing that Mahony and his top advisor discussed ways to hide the criminal activity of priests preying on children 15 years before the scandal was front page news.
The documents do not show that Mahony did anything to help the children who were preyed upon, to stop the abuse, find answers, seek justice or in any way reach for a better solution than open escape routes for abusers.
There is some hand wringing in Mahony’s notes but hand wringing is not what’s celebrated when people bow to kiss a Cardinal’s ring and jockey for position next to one at a dinner or reception, or write checks to His Eminence, or the reason that lavish celebrations take place at cathedrals when a new hierarch comes to town to “lead.”
Mahony does not indicate that he will do anything now, “sorry” as he is, to use his considerable contact list, his public voice, or his position which is still valuable to many who collect and use people of influence – to find the fugitives from justice for whom he opened the doors, or truly accept responsibility in truth for what he did nor challenge his Church or his Pope to come clean about what they did.
This is not religious leadership.
This is not good example.
This is not protecting the innocent, the weak and the vulnerable.
This is not defending life.
This is cowardice.
It is cowardice coupled with conceit and muscled with money.
Catholics should not stand for it believing in some naïve way that not to speak out against this kind of leader and his ilk is loyalty to God – rewardable with a celestial crown.
We stand this day in solidarity with SNAP’s call that every page of the documents must be examined by the district attorney to determine if criminal prosecutions can be brought against the Cardinal and his aides and any and all on his staff that concealed, diverted, deflected and aided and abetted criminals.
If criminal prosecutions cannot be brought because of statutes of limitations we believe it is incumbent upon the Los Angeles district attorney to tell the public who the unindicted conspirators are who slip the bonds of prosecution because of the statutes.
What can you do?
- Read the documents.
- Share them.
- Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Send NSAC News and the links to the Los Angeles stories to just one Catholic today. One concerned citizen. One parent. One grandparent. One district attorney. One more tomorrow. Another on Friday. Ask for only one thing: that they read the documents. Second best, they read the news stories.
- Support the survivor organizations: SNAP, Road to Recovery, us, the coalition in Pennsylvania testifying today to change the laws, – with money and time and solidarity. Silent admiration is one thing but it does not increase a movement. Protecting children requires strength and numbers.
- Support Bishop Accountability (bishop-accountability.org). These are dedicated small band of people who have faithfully been documenting the truth of this crisis.
- Support John Wojnowski who is outside the Vatican Embassy day in and day out. Scrowl down this page to our editorial about John on what to do!
Without the courage and insistence of the survivors of the 2007 Los Angeles settlement, truth would be buried, hushed up and hustled away like an unseemly intruder. We applaud their steadfastness and their devotion to the truth and their desire that all who suffered be honored. It is not the Cardinal or the Pope or staff in a chancery who sought the light of day for the truth – it is the survivors.
For those who had childhoods stripped from them, for those whose lives bear each day the scourge of sexual abuse, for those families whose lives are seared with the brutality of the day to day struggle of the effects of sexual abuse, for them, please act today.
Nothing changes if the deluge of documents passes into an archive.
As far back as Aristotle, this wisdom has been with us: we are what we repeatedly do.
— Kristine Ward, NSAC, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com