April 12, 2006

Cardinal Sin

By George Neumayr

After Bill Clinton pardoned drug trafficker Carlos Vignali and controversy broke out, James Carville, appearing on Meet the Press in March 2001, sought cover by saying, "I don't know all the facts, but I do know the cardinal of Los Angeles supported this." Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony had written a note to Clinton asking him to consider clemency for the cocaine dealer. But it turned out in the scandalous aftermath that Mahony hadn't even met the felon.

An embarrassed Mahony admitted, "I have never met Mr. Carlos Vignali." Scrambling for an explanation, he said that he had written the note at the direction of "leaders of the community whom I greatly respect" and because he was "well aware of the outstanding contributions which the Vignali family have made to all of Southern California over the years" (though he hadn't met Carlos Vignali Sr. either and said he "knew nothing about [the Vignali family's] past nor their history." ...

Michael Baker, an ex-priest caught molesting children, has testified about Mahony's hypocritical brand of I'm-above-the-law clericalism, recounting that after he offered to turn himself in to the police, Mahony's chancery lawyer said, "Should we call the police now?" And Mahony's response was, according to Baker, "No, no, no." Mahony then assigned Baker over the subsequent 14 years to several parishes near schools and children.

Jurors sitting on a case involving a pedophile priest in Stockton (a priest whose ministry partially overlapped with Mahony's tenure as bishop of Stockton) concluded that Mahony didn't even respect the rules of the courtroom. In their deliberations on the size of the settlement to the victims in the case, the jurors disregarded Mahony's testimony, sizing him up as a witness who lacked credibility. One juror told the press that he "found Mahony to be utterly unbelievable."

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2006 08:33 AM