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Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), which formed during the sex-abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese, posted this statement on the Web: “For 75 years, the records indicate that [Los Angeles] diocesan leaders met repeated warnings and alerts of sexual abuse by clergy with a virtual guarantee that the abusers would continue to abuse – they shuffled priests to new assignments and appealed to parents for their silence. And these are not the complete files that will emerge in any civil and criminal trials.”
“Tragic and horrific as the parsed and sanitized stories in these documents are, they only represent about half of the priests accused in pending trials,” the VOTF statement said.
“The survivors deserve justice and the laity deserve accountability from its hierarchy,” VOTF President Jim Post stated.
In a statement posted on its Web site on Oct. 12, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sharply criticized the cardinal and the L.A. Archdiocese.
Mary Grant, Western Regional Director of SNAP, stated: “Once again, we see huge gaps between what Cardinal Mahony claims and what his own documents prove.
“Mahony claims he let four priests stay around kids after getting reports of abusive behavior. These documents show that Mahony let at least eight priests remain around kids after abuse reports.
“The bottom line is that the Cardinal put twice as many kids in harm's way than he's ever admitted.
“Mahony claims 219 L.A. priests are accused of molesting kids. These documents show that at least 245 L.A. priests are accused of molesting kids.
“The bottom line is that the Cardinal misled his flock again. There are 26 more likely predators than the Cardinal has ever admitted before.”
Grant warns: “When the real documents … finally surface, the truth will be much worse.”
Catholics may well ask: What went wrong? Will church leaders fix the system?
The Church itself describes the gravity of the crimes. Paragraph 2356 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.” (Bold emphasis mine.)
The priests who molested so many children did not operate without accomplices. In most cases, bishops covered up the crimes and allowed the molesters to continue on their destructive paths. Some of America’s leading cardinals have been implicated in these scandals. As of yet, none has been asked to surrender his red hat. The cardinals elect the pope from their own ranks, and the pope appoints the cardinals. Can these men judge themselves honestly when they answer only to one another?
In Paragraph 1431, the catechism describes the path of conversion for the sinner. “Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.”
Concerned Catholics can only hope their leaders will heed the precepts that they are entrusted to teach.
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