Friday, February 20, 2009

Cardinal sins

Recently I attended an affair at my nieces' high school. When I arrived, a few minutes late, I was stunned to see Cardinal Roger Mahony standing at the lectern, addressing the students. Had I known he had been invited to speak, I would not have attended.

Let me state simply my conviction that Cardinal Mahony ought to be in jail. Any other man who has done what he has admitted to having done would, without question, have long since been arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced. The idea that a man who has aided, abetted, protected and continually covered up the crimes of child rapists and molesters can avoid punishment because he wears a red robe and sports a gold crucifix is abhorrent to any civilized sense of justice. And that the civil authorities continue to countenance his presence as a free man and influential figure among us is loathsome not only for its malfeasance but for its cowardice.

Cardinal Mahony, in his capacity as bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, made it possible for scores of pedophiles to victimize children over decades, shielding them from prosecution, hiding their evil natures from parents, enabling them to have access to children, transferring them, protecting them, covering up for them so as to avoid justice, and making it possible for them to continue committing their vile and disgusting crimes. When the abuse scandals broke, and he was implicated in them, what did he do? Resign and make abject amends both spiritually and legally as any man of conscience would do? Do public penance and subject himself to civil justice as compromised Catholic clerics throughout the ages have done? No. Instead, he spent millions on lawyers and public relations firms to defend himself and to further shield the perpetrators. To all this, he has already admitted, offering only the most vapid and hypocritical apologies, while he continues to withhold from the authorities the personnel records necessary to identify and prosecute the criminals.

To me, as I stood there watching him offer hollow encouragements to yet another generation of Catholic school children, thousands of whom he has already betrayed to their defilers, he seemed cloaked not in the cross and clerical garb of a cardinal but in the black shirt and leather belts of the fascists. This is an evil, cowardly and despicable man, undeserving of any consideration except that of the judge and the jailer.