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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Settlement keeps cardinal from fray
By A TIMES EDITORIAL
Published July 20, 2007
Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese offered an apology to 508 victims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests under his authority, but he stopped short of confessing his own sins. Although Mahony agreed to a record $660-million settlement to get the victims to drop their suits against the church, it appears his motive was as much to protect himself as to bring relief to the priests' victims.
After all, it was Mahony who for years fought to keep church records of child molestation and rape sealed. In doing so, he delayed justice and wasted millions of dollars meant for charitable work by fighting the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he lost. In a sense, Mahony's assent to the settlement is just another way for him to manipulate the ugly truth.
While some church records of priests' illegal activities could now be available to prosecutors in a criminal investigation, each document has to be vetted by a judge in a time-consuming process before release. Again, Mahony's pattern is one of denial and delay.
Even the monetary settlement won't hurt Mahony personally. Nearly half of the $660-million will be paid by the archdiocese's insurance and other religious orders. The church's portion could come out of the money collected for charitable work or the archdiocese payroll. A recent memo from administrators said the lay staff would get no raise this year because of the settlement.
The money did little to end many victims' suffering. Of Mahony and the church hierarchy, Lee Bashforth, who as a child was molested for a decade by a priest, had this to say: "They sacrificed us, and we were children, to keep themselves in good standing with the church."
Even now, Mahony won't acknowledge the extent of his complicity in covering up wrongdoing. Mahony has admitted moving two priests to other positions after learning of their actions; both priests went on to molest more children. But the Los Angeles Times has determined that Mahony allowed 16 priests to remain in positions of authority for up to 13 years after learning that the priests had behaved scandalously with children.
Sounds as though a criminal conspiracy may have occurred somewhere along the way. However, John Manly, an attorney for several of the victims, doubts prosecutors will pursue criminal cases against priests or top church officials, fearing a backlash from the archdiocese's 4.3-million members.
Only Mahony and his God know if the cardinal has been forgiven for his sins. As for any legal transgressions, Los Angeles area Catholics should encourage a full accounting, here and now, if their archdiocese is serious about atoning for the unspeakable molestation of children who were taught to trust and obey their priests.
Christ's view of the matter is reported in Luke 17:1-3: "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than he should offend one of these little ones."