Tuesday June 22, 2010

From ‘Gay Friendly’ LA Cardinal, a Grim Tale of Sex Abuse Complicity

By Kathleen Gilbert

LOS ANGELES, June 22, 2010 ( – In a videotaped deposition released last Tuesday, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony admits he did not think it necessary to contact police after learning of the sex abuse perpetrated by a priest in his diocese against two boys. Instead, Mahony transferred the priest to other locations, where the abuse could potentially continue.

The archdiocese had tried but failed to keep private the deposition, which was taken as part of a lawsuit that resulted in a $2.2 million settlement.

The five-hour videotaped deposition, the first to be released to the public, shows Mahony explaining his conduct after former priest Michael Baker confessed to him in 1986 that he had molested two boys. Baker, who has been accused of abuse by at least 23 individuals, is now serving a 10-year jail sentence on charges of molestation.

When John Manly, an attorney representing one of Baker’s victims, asked if the cardinal agreed “that the first thing any priest should do … when you learn that a priest has molested a child is call the police,” Mahony answered, “not necessarily.” Later, he said he was unable to report the accusations to the police because the priest had not told him the names of the victims or their parents, and the suspected child abuse form requires one to fill out the name. He admitted, however, that he did not direct his staff to try to find the victims.

The LA cardinal said he believed the priest when he told the cardinal that the victims were “illegal aliens” who had returned to Mexico, and that the abuse happened outside the parish. Following the confession, Baker was sent to a residential center for treatment before he was sent to several other parishes.

Mahony said that Baker defined the abuse as “touching” that occurred on one or two occasions. However, the AP’s Gillian Flaccus notes that the archdiocese’s 2004 report to congregants, which included a cover letter bearing Mahony’s signature, said the priest told Mahony about his “relationship with two boys from 1978 to 1985.”

The cardinal said in the videotaped deposition that “I just believed that [Baker] really intended to reform” and that he “believed everything he said.” He also said he failed to follow up with the priest about subsequent victims because “at that point I wouldn’t have asked him because he was the consummate liar.”

Last year it was revealed that a federal grand jury has been investigating whether Mahony and the archdiocese merited criminal prosecution for their handling of the scandal.

Cardinal Mahony, a celebrity among activists who seek to overturn Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality, is known for breaking with Catholic Church hierarchy to support the homosexualist cause. His “gay-friendly” views have clashed in the past with the Vatican on a matter touching the heart of the sex-abuse scandal.

In 2005 the L.A. archdiocese dismissed a Vatican directive barring homosexual men from the priesthood. That Vatican directive was widely interpreted as a direct response to the sex-abuse crisis, and was backed up by a study commissioned by the U.S. bishops’ conference that found that 80-90% of clerical sex abuse was perpetrated against adolescent males (ephebophilia), not prepubescent boys (pedophilia).

Following release of the directive, archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg told the L.A. Times, “There will be some people who from what they hear in the media will think: ‘Oh my God, this means no gay will ever be ordained in the priesthood again or anybody with a homosexual orientation will never be ordained again.’ That’s simply not true.”

Two years later, however, the archdiocese paid out $600 million in a sex abuse settlement, the largest by any diocese since the scandal began in 2002.

Since the release of the deposition, Mahony has again apologized, saying that although the data is “not new,” he should have dealt “more forcefully” with the offending priest. “I believed too readily in Baker’s contrition, and in our ability to treat and monitor him effectively,” he said.

The attorney who questioned Mahony said that the cardinal’s answers paint a less-than-flattering picture of Mahony’s attitude toward Baker’s actions. “Any right-thinking person would not have engaged in the conduct Roger Mahony engaged in with Michael Baker unless they were trying to cover it up,” said Manly, according to the AP.

See related coverage:

Homosexuals Not Permitted in Any Seminaries, Reaffirms Vatican

Vatican Encourages Psychological Testing to Prevent Homosexual Priesthood

Ban on Homosexual Men From Priesthood Was Always in Place – Decision from 810 A.D. Cited

Catholic Schism Being Revealed as Homosexual Priest Document Readies for Release

Notable Articles, Documents, and Quotes on the Church Sex Abuse Scandal