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Card. Mahony: Master of Cunning & Deceit

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

Whenever I see Cardinal Roger Mahony’s pictures in his archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings, I am reminded of a fox. On his lips, a gleeful smile as he poses with a grand donor, a celebrity, an honor student, a football player, the workers on strike or picket lines, the illegal immigrants clamoring for driver's licenses. A man of tremendous energy reputed to be one of the most powerful Bishops in the U.S., he never loses an opportunity to tally points with the people. But his eyes do not smile, they are wary, watchful, seeking the advantage, covering his sides and back.

Card Roger Mahony

Above, Cardinal Mahony at a press conference. Below, the fox, presented by medieval bestiaries as cunning and deceitful, pretends to be dead so he can lure birds and take them as prey

the fox ruse
The medieval bestiaries, which look at the animals God created to find what they figure for man, tells us the fox stands for what is cunning and deceitful. This is because the fox has two natures, it pretends to be harmless and good willed but it will use every scheme and trick to get what he wants. Also, when the fox falls into some danger from which escape seems impossible it will bite off his own foot to get free. “The tricks of this creature,” Physiologus tells us, “are mindful of the different deceits of treacherous men, and also of the devil” (1).

I don’t think this description is a bit too strong to apply to the progressivist quisling, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who served as Bishop of Fresno, CA (1975-80), Stockton, CA (1980), and has been Archbishop of Los Angeles since 1985.

After the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of minors exploded in Boston in 2002, it soon became apparent that something similar had been taking place in Los Angeles. Victims of clergy sexual abuse began to surface with claims of being ignored and badly treated; information came to light that pedophile priests were protected or shuffled around when their crimes would come to light; investigations showed the archdiocesan seminary and office teeming with homosexuals. Some wondered if Cardinal Mahony would be the next Prelate to resign. Would the Fox fall into a pit of his own making?

So far, at least, the answer is no. To fool his flock into thinking he is protecting them, Mahony has used every trick in the bag - even hiring a costly Century City public relations firm to improve his image. He speaks constantly of openness and transparency. He offers apologies to the priests, the religious, the victims, and the people with as great alacrity as JPII. He boasts that he was among the first to implement the “zero tolerance” policy, and at times assumes a spokesman role at the Bishops meetings insisting on compliance. All this to create a perceived reality of a leader with some few mistakes of the past that should be overlooked in view of his shining present stance and record.

In fact, his mistakes of the past were not so few, and his present is not so luminous. In February, 2004, the Archdiocese said it had already paid $10.4 million in settlements since 1985, and still faces a flood of civil cases. More than 500 claims have been made against the Archdiocese since State lawmakers temporarily lifted the statue of limitations last year on child sex abuse lawsuits. According to new estimates released in August 2004, total damages against the Archdiocese could exceed $1.5 billion, an attorney for victims stated (2).

Despite his claims of transparency, Mahony has refused to release accused priests’ names and has used legal tricks to keep documents from prosecutors and to dodge depositions. Despite boasts of “zero tolerance,” he has shuffled child molester priests from parish to parish even though he knew of their crimes. Despite assertions of complete openness, he has authorized spending millions of dollars to quietly settle sex abuse claims while imposing strict “confidentiality agreements” on victims to buy silence. Despite his call for more lay participation in investigations, it was Mahony who precipitated the resignation of Frank Keating, head of the lay National Review Board, after Keating criticized Mahony’s orchestration of a boycott by the California Bishops of its compliance survey.

Let me present some examples illustrating how the Cardinal-Fox works.

The truth behind the ‘zero tolerance’ policy in L.A.

The Cardinal of the nation’s largest diocese boldly brags that the Los Angeles Archdiocese was one of the first to implement the zero-tolerance policy in 1988. He would have it appear as a sign of his far-sighted vigilance over his flock. He repeats this so often that many actually accept this flummery as true. Let me point out what really happened.

The Los Angeles and Orange Dioceses were forced by a judge to formally accept a “zero tolerance” policy as part of a $5.2 million settlement in the clergy abuse suit of Ryan DiMaria. Along with four other persons, DiMaria accused Msgr. Michael Harris of molesting them when they were teenagers. Diocesan officials apparently knew of allegations against Harris dating back to the 1970s, but did nothing (3). To keep the case from becoming public, Mahony accepted DiMaria’s conditions, including installation of a “zero tolerance” policy.

What is more, it wasn’t until February 2002 that Mahony applied the terms of the policy he had installed to old allegations against eight priests and removed them from ministry. So even with the “zero tolerance” policy he had been forced to adopt in place, it was virtually ignored – except for publicity purposes. Some rigor was applied only when the national clergy sex abuse scandal broke loose and the Catholic public began to demand accountability from Bishops. As investigations began in Los Angeles, many other cases came to light that demonstrated the Cardinal’s complacency with guilty pedophile priests.

Was a radical “zero tolerance” policy being applied in L.A., as Mahony so often boasted? Hardly.

A homosexual-friendly Archdiocese

As the new Millennium dawned, the Los Angeles Archdiocese was known as one of the most homosexual-friendly in the United States. As early as 1991, Jim Johnson, caregiver to AIDS patients, openly stated that Roger Mahony was “surrounded by homosexual priests” and alluded to several “gay bishops” (4).

In 1993, the Cardinal helped to fund and produce the video A Journey for Understanding Gays and Lesbians in the Church. The video affirmed that there was nothing wrong with any “gay” or lesbian person whatsoever, that “being gay was a blessing and a gift,” and had “something prophetic toward remodeling the Church” (5) In 1996, the L.A. Archdiocese celebrated a Mass for its “lesbian and gay Catholics” during “Gay and Lesbian Pride Week” in West Hollywood, and sponsored a booth at its “Pride Festival.” In 1997, Cardinal Mahony himself said the Mass and delivered the homily for The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries at its annual convention in Long Beach.(6)

Mahony also founded a diocesan office of “ministry to lesbian and gay Catholics” as early as 1986. He headed it up with an openly homosexual priest, Fr. Peter Liuzzi, who had nothing but praise for the Cardinal for never “rebuking those gays and lesbians who are not celibate.” The Archdiocese also sought out an openly pro-homosexual Jesuit psychologist for its priests, Fr. Curtis Bryant (7).

Gay parade in LA

Above, a float in the LA Gay Parade 2004 ridicules the Church. Mahony, however, supports the "homosexual community."   Below, he poses with officials of his Gay and Lesbian Ministry

Mahony Gay Ministry
The same open tolerance for homosexuality prevailed at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, where seminarians spend the first four of their seven years of priestly training. A Newsweek article (May 20, 2002) reported 30-70 percent of the seminarians at St. John’s were “gay and bisexual.” Seminarians forced to leave for being “too rigid” have described across-the-board tolerance of homosexuality and no teaching on the Church’s proscription of it (8). In the sordid atmosphere of a number of post-Vatican II seminaries like this, many sodomites have been ordained priests, protecting and promoting one another in what has been named “the lavender Mafia” (9)

Has the climate of tolerance for homosexuality changed in the Los Angeles Archdiocese? While it is not so open or visible – the Gay and Lesbian Ministry office was closed in 2002 for financial reasons – there is no indication of any attitude change.

In an April 27, 2002 interview on Fox News (10), Mahony boasted about the warm and wonderful relationship of the Archdiocese with its “very large gay, lesbian community.” He also affirmed that homosexuals should be allowed to be ordained priests, that a homosexual or heterosexual inclination was irrelevant so long as the person was able to commit himself to a lifelong life of celibacy (11).

Mahony shields himself behind the progressivist lie that there is “no relationship whatsoever” between homosexuality and pedophilia. However, even a progressivist expert on the topic, Fr. Donald Cozzens, clearly affirms the opposite. Id est, that regarding the clergy, the two vices are profoundly linked since 90 percent of the priest abusers target teenager boys (12). If the abused teen is under 16, the priest is termed a pedophile, if he is older, the priest is called a homosexual. It is the same vice divided by a thin line of age difference in the victims.

So while the Cardinal drones “zero tolerance” to the press like a broken record, his unconditional support of homosexuality and his personal acceptance of homosexual priests seems to indicate a strong complacency toward the sexual abuse of teenagers over 16, to say the least.

Cover-ups everywhere

It would fill a book to detail the many cases of cover-up of the L.A. Cardinal regarding pedophile priests. Even so, the work would be incomplete, because it is certain that much remains that is unknown. I will simply set forth several cases for the reader to see the pattern that emerges.

Most notably Cardinal Mahony is accused of assigning Fr. Michael Baker to various parishes for a decade after the priest admitted to the Cardinal in 1986 that he had abused some boys. Baker continued to molest boys until 1999. Then, when two brothers who claimed to be molested by Baker threatened to sue the Archdiocese in 2000, Mahony paid them $1.3 million to keep the case quiet (13). Only in 2002 did Mahony report Baker - along with about ten others - to law enforcement. This was the same Prelate, I remind you, who in 1988 firmly stated that he would “never deal with a problem of sexual abuse on the part of priest or deacon by simply moving him to another ministerial assignment.” He made this public statement at the very same time that he was dealing with Baker’s abuses, transferring him to other parishes…

Another volatile case where Mahony admitted his error much too late to protect the innocent is that of Fr. Michael Wempe. Even though Mahony knew Wempe was accused of pedophilia, in 1988 he reassigned Wempe to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as chaplain without informing officials there of the serious accusations against the priest. Only in March 2002 did Mahony ask Wempe to retire from the active clergy. Obviously, Mahony was aware of the accusations. Later, in September 2003, Fr. Wempe was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing another child in his chaplain’s office at the hospital from 1990 to 1995 (14). One more innocent child, therefore, was sacrificed because of Mahony’s complicity.

SNAP, Mary Grant - Manny Vega

At a press conference, SNAP director Mary Grant holds a pair of handcuffs and calls for the arrest of pedophile priest protector Roger Mahony
Another scandal flared in April 2002 after Mahony appointed his close friend Fr. Carl Sutphin as an associate pastor at the new Cathedral of Los Angeles, despite his knowledge that Sutphin was accused of sexually assaulting boys in the 1960’s and 70’s. One of his victims, Andrew Cicchillo, stated he had written a letter to Cardinal Mahony in 1991. In exchange for his silence, the Cardinal promised that Sutphin would retire and not be allowed to wear a collar. In 1995, however, Sutphin was given a position at St. Bibiana’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. With the new Cathedral appointment, Cicchillo came forward and protested. So, only in February 2002 under public pressure was Mahony forced to permanently remove Sutphin from his ministry (15).

In Spring 2002 Mahony was again in the news proclaiming openness and transparency and pledging to do “all that is humanly possible” to prevent sexual abuse in the nation’s largest Archdiocese. The same month Rita Miller came forward and asked Mahony to help her identify which of seven priests who consistently sexually abused her 20 years ago was the father of her daughter. She became pregnant at age 16. She said the Archdiocese tried to cover up the abuse by arranging for her to go to the Philippines where she delivered her baby. She stated Mahony approved regular payment to her chief molester, who allegedly was counseled by the Archdiocese to flee the country to protect himself from law enforcement officers (16).

One of the latest problems for Mahony comes from a case from his past. I refer to the notorious sex abuse trials involving two Stockton-area brothers who had been abused by Fr. Oliver O’Grady from the time they were toddlers until they were in their late teens. The Cardinal, who was Bishop of Stockton during a critical period addressed in the lawsuit, testified at the 1998 civil trial involving the former priest. Mahony had ordered an evaluation after the priest himself admitted to him that he was a molester. Then, even after a negative report, Mahony went on to reassign O’Grady to another parish, where he abused victims for years to come. The jury awarded $30 million in damages to the brothers, later reduced to $13 million (17).

In 2003 six more child abuse suits against O’Grady were filed, and Cardinal Mahony’s testimony is being sought because plaintiffs’ lawyers believe he knew O’Grady was a pedophile, but transferred and promoted him anyway. So Mahony has dodged and delayed the deposition with a number of ingenious ploys. In July 2004, a plaintiff’s attorney asked a judge to hold Mahony in contempt of court for his delays and stonewalling of justice (18). The question necessarily arises: Why does Mahony go to such lengths to refuse to testify unless he is hiding more information that could be helpful to the plaintiffs in these - and perhaps other - cases?

A national survey report released in February 2004 showed Mahony had also allowed at least 10 priests with civil cases filed against them in 2003 to stay in active ministry, among them Msgr. Richard Loomis, former vicar of the clergy, the one who actually oversaw misconduct allegations against priests. Loomis’ parishioners were told he had the Cardinal’s “complete confidence.” But when another Loomis accuser came forward, the Cardinal finally had to remove his friend, placing the priest on paid leave. How did Mahony wiggle out of this difficult situation? The crafty fox used the opportunity to falsely assert that this case proved his stern policy of protection was working. More accurately, Mary Grant, a director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said Mahony’s action made a “glaring example” that what he promises and what he does are two different things (19).

From these cases, we can see the Cardinal routinely failed to report errant priests to authorities until a 1997 California law compelled disclosure. He also habitually reassigned priests with long records of sexual abuse to places with access to children. The “one-strike-and-you’re-out” Cardinal himself holds a dismal record of protecting pedophile priests. In other words, his touted policy of “zero tolerance” is a ruse and a lie, and he is complacent with pedophile priests.

Master of delays

Card Mahony in a court of law

September 2004 court order to give prosecutors personnel files, but he delayed...
Mahony, backed by his high-powered, high-cost attorneys, is a master in the tactic of delay. With fox-like cunning, he protests loudly that his first priority is care for the victims. Threatened with a grand jury investigation in May 2002, Mahony vowed to give law enforcement officials all the documents tied to molestations by his priests. “We want every single thing out, open and dealt with, period,” he said (20).

Notwithstanding, to this day, the Archdiocese continues to present legal snags that keep 2,000 pages of documents out of the hands of law enforcement. Even after grand jury subpoenas and stern admonitions from the National Review Board, Mahony has refused to release the documents or disclose the names of 33 accused clerics, including six in active ministry (21). .

After 27 months of delay tactics by archdiocesan lawyers, on September 8, 2004, a state judge ruled that the Cardinal does not have the right to keep personnel files private and must turn them over. What was the response? Lead counsel for the Archdiocese announced the Cardinal plans to appeal the decision, possibly delaying the file handover for many more months, possibly years (22).

Therefore, instead of helping the victims in the more than 400 civil cases the Archdiocese faces, he works to slow the process down and hurt the victims, who were counting on the private documents that Mahony had promised to release. What is happening here, noted Richard Sipe, former Benedictine monk and expert on sexual abuse in the Church, is that Bishops like Mahony who say they want transparency are exposing themselves as liars (23). They are obviously more interested in child predators and their own careers than the victims and their flocks.

Taking advantage of the crisis

When one analyzes the practical consequences of the Cardinal’s reaction to the clergy sexual abuse scandals, one can see that Mahony has actually tried to take advantage of the dismal situation to forward the progressivist agenda. He has exploited the villainous crisis to bring up the question of priestly celibacy, suggesting that this could be the real root of the sexual abuse scandal in the clergy and that a married clergy should be a topic open for discussion.

I would not be surprised if the Cardinal-Fox would go even further and depict this crisis as a good fruit of Vatican II. My suspicions are not ungrounded, since he claimed just such a thing about the tragic vocations crisis the Church has suffered in this post-Vatican II period. In his 2000 pastoral letter, As I Have Done for You, he made the astounding statement that the vocations crisis in the Church was “one of the many fruits of Vatican II, a sign of God’s deep love for the Church” because, without priests, there is yet more opportunity for the laity to participate in the liturgy …

I would agree with the Cardinal that the vocations crisis is a fruit of Vatican II, but a bad fruit, and not a good one as he says. I would also propose to him that a root cause for the torrent of pedophilia and homosexuality that inundates the Catholic clergy and Hierarchy is that same Ecumenical Council. As Atila S. Guimarães points out in his timely work, Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, this crisis is “without a doubt a consequence of the moral leniency that was established in the Church after Vatican II.”


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1. Physiologus, A Bestiary by Bishop Theobald (London, John and Edward Bumpus, 1928). The author is believed to have been Abbot of Monte Cassino from 1022-1035.
2. “LA Churches Details Abuse,”, February 17, 2004; Jean Guccione, "Priest Abuse Payout May Be Costly," Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2004.
3. Atila Sinke Guimarães, Vatican II, Homosexuality & Pedophilia, (Los Angeles: TIA, 2004), p.185.
4. Ibid., p. 87.
5. Ibid., pp. 87-88.
6. Ibid., p. 90.
7. “The Shocking 22-Year Record of LA’s Archbishop,” Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, December 2002.
8. Robert Kumpel, “They Didn’t Think It Was Any Big Deal: Homosexuality and St. John’s Seminary,” Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, July/August 2002.
9. Guimarães, Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, pp. 117-119.
10. “Is the Catholic Church Doing Enough?” transcript of April 27 interview of Rita Cosby with Cardinal Mahony,, April 29, 2002.
11. Ibid.
12. Daniel Cozzens, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, pp. 123-4.
13. Guimarães , Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, p. 185.
14. Richard Winton, “Priest Held Again in Alleged Sex Abuse,” Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2003.
15. Guimarães , Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, p. 207.
16. Ron Russell, “Cardinal Cover-Up,” Los Angeles New Times, May 2, 2002.
17. Guimarães , Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, p. 183.
18. Jean Guccione, “Mahony’s Testimony Is Sought,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2004.
19. William Lobdell and Larry Stammer, “Mahony Criticized by National Review Board,” Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2004.
20. “Mahony Resisting Disclosure,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2003.
21. William Lobdell and Larry Stammer, “Mahony Criticized by National Review Board,” Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2004.
22. Jean Guccione, “Judge Rules Mahony Must Provide Files,” Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2004.
23. Lobdell and Stammer, “Mahony Criticized,” ibid.

Posted October 9, 2004

This article was first published by Roman Catholic Faithful in
Ad Majorem Dei Gloria, Summer 2004
and updated with new data

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