Greeting the Dunphy family in the parish bulletin at Mass this past Sunday was the following:
STATEMENT OF ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES REGARDING NEWS REPORTS ABOUT CLERGY ABUSE DOCUMENTS
No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators. For more than a decade, however, few institutions have done as much as the Los Angeles Archdiocese to promptly report abuse allegations to civil authorities, to screen all those who supervise children, and to train adults and children in the latest abuse prevention procedures. The past cannot be changed, but we have learned from it. We are justifiably proud of our record of child protection in the 21st century, and we remain vigilant against all that would harm our children and young people.
The statement was unsigned and offered no explanation as to why the it was deemed apt for release on Sunday. One is left to conclude it was in response to the revelation of the great lengths to which Cardinal Roger Mahony, formerly the Archbishop of Los Angeles, went to shield sexually predatory priests from the lawful consequences of their behavior. The details of Mahony’s efforts were disclosed by the Los Angeles Times on January 21, and no one who reads them, Catholic or not, can help but be angered. As a father and a police officer, I would wish for the opportunity to arrest Mahony myself and see him in the dock to answer for his crimes. Alas, the statute of limitations now protects him from earthly justice. (I wrote about Mahony’s obstruction for National Review Online back in 2004. I had a low opinion of him then and it has not improved.)
Compounding the shame of the scandal itself is the manifest lack of contrition in the above statement, in which the archdiocese says, in effect, “Yes, some bad things happened but all is well now, so get over it.” And note the clever use of the term “21st century,” a lame attempt to relegate the offenses to some long-ago forgotten era.
It would have been preferable to have said nothing at all rather than offer up the statement as published. Shame on all who had a hand in it.