Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Steve Lopez Nails LA’s Archdiocese

Steve Lopez writes a column for the LA Times called “Points West”. I remember Lopez from his 12 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer in the ‘80’s and 90’s where he nailed everything from the sewer system to drug dealing. Back then, he won the H.L. Mencken Writing Award, the Ernie Pyle Award for human-interest writing and a National Headliner Award for column writing. Steve Lopez can be hilariously funny and he always gets to the heart of the matter. But today, there was nothing funny about Lopez’s comments on LA’s Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. Lopez was simply on target. He wrote: “Roger the Dodger has already admitted — albeit without much detail — that he left five priests in the ministry despite complaints of molestation. And my newspaper has counted 11 other cases in which priests stayed on the job despite parishioners' concerns about inappropriate behavior with children. “Although the settlement agreement requires the archdiocese to turn over internal documents to a judge who will decide which ones go public, Mahony said he still considers some files "privileged" under the law. Prosecutors and victim attorneys, who have fought for years to get the good cardinal to come clean, don't necessarily agree.” It would be interesting to me to know who is taking lessons from whom. Does the Bush administration mentor the Roman Catholic Church, or does the RCC take notes on malfeasance, stonewalling and lying from the Bush administration? Or is it just a case of two corrupt and crumbling organizations coincidentally using the same tactics at the same time to save their high-placed officials from receiving the punishment they deserve? Lopez says Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley described Mahony's surrender of documents as "giving with one hand and taking away with the other." Lopez went on to say, “The archdiocese has spent untold millions on PR and legal fees, on top of the huge settlements. ‘Where does that money come from?’ asked Richard Sipe, a former priest and an expert witness on church scandal and clergy abuse. ‘That comes from parishioners, and they have a right to know.’ It comes from the hardworking employees of the archdiocese, as well.” Lopez quoted a June 18th memo he had in his possession from top administrators to department heads informing them "lay staff will receive no raises this year because of the seriousness of the financial crisis the archdiocese is facing due to the impending settlements.” Lopez had a few suggestions for the cardinal: “Perhaps the church could have avoided squeezing the staff — as well as the sale of property — if it hadn't spent a fortune on spin and legal fees over the last several years. But as I said, this was never about money. It was about protecting Mahony's image. ‘I didn't know what to do next,' Mahony said at a news conference this past weekend. ‘Everything I did, someone thought was wrong. When you're empty, the only way up is God.’ Still don't know what to do next, cardinal? Tell the truth, and all of it. Protect children, not criminals, and certainly not yourself. And if you still have to ask, maybe it's time to step down.” As I say, it’s hard to tell the Bush administration from the RC Church. But the idea that officials from either group might step down or tell the truth is impossible to imagine.

1 comment:

Barry Schwartz said...

Both Bush and the RCC are authoritarian, although the RCC has a much longer history to prove it.