Where are the priests in good standing who will stand in howling protest or gentle rebuke that they have been lumped in with the likes of Cardinal Roger Mahony and Archdiocese of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Curry?
Where are all the “good priests” as Catholics are want to talk about when they seek to turn away from the criminal sordidness of this largest scandal in the Church in the past 500 years?
Where are the Catholics who will stand and call them to account?
News reports, columnists, editorial writers, and bloggers have commented on the remarkableness of a hierarch publicly rebuking another hierarch. Remarkable only for its rarity.
But that alone only points to how far the Church has strayed, how much wrong has been accepted as right, how much unwillingness there is to stand for righteousness – for the least of these.
Even in the back and forth between Gomez and Mahony Catholics should be ashamed. Two men, charged with moral and spiritual leadership chose not the face to face meeting and a public announcement standing side by side but the public blast – one by letter the other by blog. And the Cardinal, in his blog, turns churlish to tell the world that in the past two years since Gomez came to town he hadn’t brought the matter up.
Where’s the leadership in this for two men raised to high office in the Church? What’s being taught here by men charged with the office of teacher?
“Stripping” Cardinal Mahony of his public duties has no effect on his private and secret duty as a papal elector or on his seat at three Curia congregation tables. Elector status and Curia insider status remain intact. So does the Cardinal’s residence, his paycheck, his expense account, his clothing, and his public relations ability to reach millions.
The kabuki theater that is now taking place with Gomez’ letter and Mahony’s blog is the throwing of logs into the river to hold back the dam of indictment.
But if not legal indictment, will there at least be the indictment against those who continue to claim that the crisis is over, the Church is in the lead in reform, children are safe while the Los Angeles’ documents continue to reveal the truth, the criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph remains in office, and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues its stall tactics in the bankruptcy proceedings.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ statement said, “Cardinal Mahony, as Archbishop Emeritus, and Bishop Curry, as Auxiliary Bishop, remain bishops in good standing in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Church and to minister to the faithful without restriction.”
What is playing out in Los Angeles is not confined to Los Angeles. There is nothing in the Pacific sunsets or in the Hollywood air that has localized this problem anymore than the baked beans or the Charles River were the source of the problem in the scandal incarnation in Boston in 2002.
It is not hierarchs that have brought the truth to light. It is the victims who have had to and continue to have to fight tooth and nail for justice.
It is not hierarchs who lead the fight for the solution. There is no interest in Gomez’ letter or in Mahony’s blog to end the flight of fugitive predator priests for whom doors for flight were opened by hierarchs, to demand justice for survivors, to seek real solutions, to honor the abused.
There is in the Gomez’ letter characterization – it is “sad” and “evil.”
There is in Mahony’s blog excuse –nothing is Mahony’s social work education, he tells us, prepared him for dealing with sexual abuse. But it seems something prepared him for helping predator priests. Could that have been his seminary education?
There is tinkling brass and clanging cymbals.
Where are the priests in “good standing” who will stand to stop this music?
Where are the Catholics who will call them to account?
To ask again the question that has lingered through all the incarnations of the scandal: where is the outrage?
—– Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com