Cardinal Mahony Under Investigation for Clergy Sex Scandal Cover-Up

Thu Jan 29, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Kathleen Gilbert

LOS ANGELES, January 29, 2009 ( - Federal investigators have launched a probe against Cardinal Roger Mahony and other officials of the L.A. Archdiocese to determine whether he was guilty of fraud by covering up clerical sex abuse, according to a Los Angeles Times report yesterday.

Unnamed sources told the Times that Cardinal Mahony is under investigation for his role in allowing the continued abuse of children and young men by known sex offenders among the clergy.  Specifically, the inquiry is intended to determine whether Mahony and other church officials committed fraud by failing to deal properly with such clergy. 

If charged, the cardinal could be tried for violating a federal statute that forbids "[scheming] to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."  It is as yet uncertain whether criminal charges are likely to be pursued, as the inquiry is still in its beginning stages.  The probe, the Times was told, has been underway since at least late last year.

J. Michael Hennigan, a lawyer for the archdiocese, denied that Mahony was implicated in the investigation, saying that the requests for information concerned only "a number of individual priests," none of whom remain in ministry.

The diocese said it will cooperate fully in the investigation, claiming that "under Cardinal Mahony’s leadership, the archdiocese has become a model" for tracking down and punishing abuse.

The Cardinal in a local radio appearance Thursday said he was "mystified and puzzled" by the investigation, and that he had not been told he was directly targeted.

The development begins the latest chapter in a dark history surrounding Mahony and the L.A. Archdiocese, which have been embroiled in scandal for several years surrounding the covering-up and relocating of clerical sex abusers, the majority of which were homosexual predators victimizing young men. 

Through it all Mahony, the diocese’s chief administrator - who has become notorious as a symbol of dissidence among leading Church officials for glibly supporting homosexuality and liberal political causes - managed to escape questioning on his role in the affair.  Mahony received the ire of both Catholics and non-Catholics for refusing to cooperate fully in the investigations.  Yet Mahony and those who might have implicated him were spared the witness box by hundreds of millions in settlement money the diocese has paid out since the outset in 2002. 

July 2007 saw the last legal action concerning the scandal, when the diocese paid out a staggering $660 million settlement - the largest settlement on record and a quarter of the entire U.S. Catholic Church’s financial costs - to over 500 alleged clergy abuse victims.

At the time, Mahony apologized for the "terrible sin and crime," saying such abuse should never happen again.  But many Catholics and members of victims’ groups remained outraged that Mahony, like other top church officials in the U.S. clergy abuse scandal, was not held to account.

"This ugly chapter in Catholic history cannot be closed until the Church rebukes those prelates who put their own interests ahead of the needs of the Catholic faithful and the Catholic faith," wrote Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, following the 2007 settlement.  "Cardinal Mahony is the most conspicuous example."

See related coverage:

Los Angeles Archdiocese Pays Out $660 Million For Clergy Sex Abuse Settlement

Huge Los Angeles Religious Ed. Congress Again Features Gay-Promoting Priests, Dissenters

Los Angeles Diocese Covered Up Sex Abuse by Priests for Decades Files Reveal

Head of U.S. Bishops Abuse Panel Resigns

Los Angeles Diocese Release on Priest Abusers Only Fraction of Story

Gay-Friendly U.S. Bishops Outed by Homosexual Activist ‘Catholic’ Group

See’s Church Abuse Crisis page

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