Archdiocese of Los Angeles and The Sexual Abuse Settlement

Over at The London Times, the author took exception to Catholic officials trying to block some leaders from receiving communion during Pope Francis’ installation mass. She laments:

 The Catholic Church portrays itself hypocritical…[It] is the most powerful religion in the world today but by making itself seem above others creates more harm then benefit.

The hypocrisy The London Times underscores during Pope Francis’ short tenure has roots in his election. On March 12, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled four clergy sexual abuse cases for roughly $10 million stemming from allegations by victims that alleged former priest Michael Baker repeatedly molested them in the 1970s. Baker committed these acts under the watch of former Cardinal Roger Mahony, and many people are rightfully up in arms over the fact Mahony allowed this heinous criminal to continue as a priest. Disgraced, Mahony retired in 2011, was stripped of his diocesan duties in January, and formally rebuked in March. Somehow, the history of covering up for a pedophile did not prevent Mahony from continuing to play a significant role within the Catholic Church on a global level though. The day the settlement was reached, Mahony was at the Vatican helping to elect the Pope, the holy leader of one of the world’s largest religions.

By itself, the above set of circumstances paint a disturbing picture, but they are not the end of the story. Not only did Mahony’s actions reveal a flawed character, but his words also did the same. Mahony took to his blog to complain about being made a “scapegoat” in the church scandal. The ex-Cardinal believes he is somehow a victim in this episode, a horrific diminishment of the true trauma Baker’s victims experienced. He is not a scapegoat, but a tacit accomplice who bucked all moral and ethical obligations to protect a fellow clergymen.

Furthermore, the church’s statement after the settlement only worsened the situation. ” The Archdiocese has always taken full responsibility for Michael Baker’s actions, it was just a matter of agreeing on a number. We’re happy to move past this,” said J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney for the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Taken full responsibility? Move past this? Mahony continues to distance himself from the situation, and it’s impossible for the victims to suddenly forget the abuses they were subjected to simply because the Catholic Church cut them a check. This kind of public relations garbage is to be expected from slimy organizations or individuals trying to save face, but we should expect more from the Catholic Church.

At the Papal Conclave, Mahony posted several blog posts about his wonderful experience. He also suggested that he would pray for his critics, a sizable portion of people who vehemently opposed his attendance in Rome. Quite frankly, Mahony should spend his time more wisely. Instead of praying for his detractors, he needs to reflect introspectively to understand why he has failed miserably to conduct himself in a morally acceptable matter becoming of reputable individual.

3 thoughts on “Archdiocese of Los Angeles and The Sexual Abuse Settlement

  1. Religious institutions ought to be held to a higher standard of conduct. The fact that Cardinal Mahony spent more time feeling sorry for himself as a “victim” than working to correct the abuse of Michael Baker reflects poorly on the most powerful and widespread religion in the world. It’s sad to see so much money being spent on out-of-court settlements as opposed to charity projects and acts of good will.

    The truth of the matter is that the average person who reads about these sex abuse scandal end up with a very sour view of the Catholic Church, an institution that is responsible for a promoting a lot of positive initiatives around the world. Unfortunately, when scandals like these surface, they take the headlines away from the positive things the Church might be doing and focus instead on the negative aspects of a relatively small number of clergymen. Still, it is incumbent upon the church to take responsibility for the actions of their clergy. Cardinal Mahony should have been the first to condemn the actions of Michael Baker and use the case to set an example for the future.

  2. It is indeed a scandal that sickens the rest of the human family. If caught in such scandals ordinary members of the Church would face excommunication. What does a Priest need to do in this life to receive the same treatment?

    Like Jared said above, it is sad when these events occur because it gives otherwise honest and moral members of society a negative view of religion. Detractors of Christianity have used the child sex abuse scandals againt organized religion. It’s important to remember that we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Organized religion offers so many benefits to our society and to individuals. We must also recognize that.

  3. I am not Catholic, yet when I think of Catholicism as an institution I find it difficult to remove the allegations of child abuse and corruption from my opinion. The fact that Mahony is not trying profess his innocence, and instead attempting to remiss the degree of his accountability in such a deplorable situation is unforgiving. It makes the idea that he swept this all under the rug realistic to me.

    If he isn’t responsible, who is?

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