Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's claim that no one taught him how to respond to sexual abuse committed by priests is preposterous. Does one need a postgraduate college course to know that a crime committed against a child is to be reported to the police?
The only changes Mahony has undergone are from hiding and thus supporting the pedophiles to all-out damage control and now, finally, to a steadfast refusal to accept personal responsibility. The former L.A. archbishop seems entirely incapable of understanding what he has done.
Mahony's fall represents a large sector of disaffected Catholics who are silenced under the current Vatican purge. Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez emphasizes piety but not active improvement of the lives of workers and rejected immigrants. The Vatican has replaced many of its socially concerned clerics with conservative ones, and it silences nuns and theologians.
It is true that the centuries of misinformation about human sexuality and the unyielding rule of a celibate clergy have contributed to the ignorance about pedophilia being a "curable" condition. After the sexual revolution in the 1970s, we are all the wiser.
Though the abuse that went on is inexcusable, as Catholics we are taught to accept a sinner's sincere repentance.
The church needs to do more than deal with the abuse scandal; it needs to liberate the holy voices from within the laity and complete its learning curve about human sexuality and gender equality.
Jean E. Rosenfeld
Mahony said in his open letter: "Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem. In two years spent in graduate school earning a master's degree in social work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children."
To that I reply: Really? Nothing in his background or education equipped Mahony to deal with adults abusing children? It's pretty basic: Abuse is wrong. People who abuse children are doing something immoral and illegal.
If a layperson such as myself can figure this out, why can't a leader of an organization that is supposed to be the font of all morality in the Western world?
If Mahony really did turn over an archdiocese "second to none" on handling child abuse to his successor, then the Roman Catholic Church has a much larger problem than I thought.