Southern Religion

Judgment Day (at last) for Cardinal Mahoney? [updated]

R. Stephenson-Padorn (via Wikipedia)

Cardinal Mahony

“It took way, way too long, but the U.S. attorney has finally launched a grand jury investigation into the actions of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony when dealing with rapist priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, ” wrote William Lobdell.

For eight years Lobdell covered the religion beat for the Los Angeles Times, and specifically the priestly sex abuse scandals. He has a written a book which among other things chronicles how interviewing the victims broke his heart. Commenting on the grand jury investigation, he went on to say:

Reading the initial story, the legal tactic seems a bit of a long shot, but why not try–especially if it can be used to punish other bishops, archbishops and cardinals who covered up and hid rapist priests, many of whom went on to commit sex crimes on other children?

To review just a few of Mahony’s sins (click here to see them all), he quietly kept two convicted child molesters in ministry. A priest who admitted to Mahony that he had molested two boys was allowed to keep his job, the authorities weren’t told, parishioners weren’t warned, and (you guessed it), the priest went on to molest others. Mahony’s handling of serial rapist of little children, Oliver O’Grady, was laid out with sickening beauty in the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Deliver Us From Evil.” As late as 2002, Mahony had at least eight known molesting priests working in his diocese, and only removed them when forced to do so by a legal settlement.

You can see, then, why victims responded with quiet strength to the news of the Mahony investigation. The video snipped from their news conference (below) is, we think, clear enough (the archdiocese released a statement calling the group “an angry mob”):

Transcript here.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating resigned as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board examining sex abuse by Catholic Priests after Cardinal Mahony criticized him for comparing some church leaders to the Mafia.

In his resignation Keating wrote:

My remarks, which some Bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology . . . To resist Grand Jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church.

The Honest Services statute was passed to overcome “conspiracies to deprive others of honest services.”

Was that, or was that not the kind of problem Keating was describing? The answer is unclear to legal scholars. But L.A. Now was optimistic:

One federal law enforcement source said such a prosecution could be brought under a federal statute that makes it illegal to “scheme … to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” In this case, the victims would be parishioners who relied on Mahony and other church leaders to keep their children safe from predatory priests, the source said.

Your thoughts? Louder please, so they can hear you in Los Angeles.

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Crime, Law, Religion | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Black, Catholic, RNC chairman Steele

The Republican religious right lost and put its own decline on display when big-tent former lieutenant governor of Maryland Michael Steele was elected the first black Republican National Committee chairman in history, Friday.

Underlying party direction didn’t change and the Culture Warriors will still get plenty of attention. But Ken Blackwell was the candididate of the James C. Dobson wing of the Republican Party, as you can see from a quck look at his list of endorsers.

Steele, a former Catholic seminarian, promised immediately to upend the public perception that the Republicans are “a party unconcerned about minorities, a party that’s unconcerned about the lives and dreams of average Americans.”

Good as he is, that’s unlikely, but things have unmistakably changed. Calling Steele a “moderate,” however, would be a miscategorization.


GetReligion notes with justified puzzlement that major newspapers led with the race issue and ignored the fact that Steele is a former seminarian.

Tmatt wrote:

I am not, let me stress, saying that the racial issue is not important. I am saying that it is very, very strange — when everyone knows the importance of centrist Catholics in American politics — to offer no information on the religious element in the story of the new leader of the Republican Party.


January 31, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Black, Catholic, RNC chairman Steele