March 15, 2005

Mahony, in legal battle, insists church has right to secrecy


Los Angeles

Since June 2002, when the scandal-plagued Catholic bishops met in Dallas to adopt a youth protection charter, Cardinal Roger Mahony has cast himself as a reformer, an image that is jarring to many people immersed in the legal saga here in which the archdiocese has waged a fierce battle to keep sensitive documents secret.

“If priests are indicted and some end up in prison or whatever, that’s going to be very sad for them, for the church,” Mahony told the Los Angeles Times in the weeks following that 2002 meeting. “But if that is required to move beyond, that’s what we’re going to have to go through.”

Two and a half years later, amid the slow grind of court proceedings, Mahony spoke of his own “terrible journey” in a Feb. 12 telephone interview with NCR. “It’s easy to look back through lenses of today to 15, 20, 30 years ago. You just wish you had known then what I know now” about the way sexual offenders behave.

“I’ve met a very large number of victims,” he continued. “I’ve also looked at the taped interviews [of victims] the plaintiff attorneys here have developed. Dozens of interviews on DVD. I’ve listened to those, every single one of them. They just cause you to cry. You simply are in disbelief at what has happened to the lives of these people. It has been a very humbling experience. Spiritually, I was absolutely at the bottom, which means total vulnerability to God’s grace. And I began to realize that this is the ministry Jesus Christ is asking of me and others at this time, to repair the damage, to make sure it won’t happen again.”

Posted by kshaw at March 15, 2005 08:30 PM