I have tremendous respect for Father Greg Boyle, who has done so much to rehabilitate gang members. So it was with great dismay that I read his quote saying that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's legacy shouldn't be defined by the sex abuse scandal.
Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, knew the kind of devotion and reverence that the immigrant community gives to the church, and he knew how helpless many of the undocumented feel in the face of any abuse. Mahony protected known pedophiles and helped them find new jobs, yet he did not guarantee justice for his priests' victims. Mahony failed the most vulnerable, and he deserves to be held to the same legal standard as anyone else.
Boyle asks, "Who knows about legacies?" I know this much: Protecting pedophiles over children is not a legacy to be proud of.
The coverage of Mahony is bordering on a witch hunt. The conduct that we now consider reprehensible occurred in the 1980s, when things were handled much differently. Mahony did what virtually any other leader of an organization would have done back then: He handled the matter internally.
Unfortunately, few of us understood the depth of the damage done to the victims, in the same way we failed to understand that many combat veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
What happened was unacceptable, but this character assassination of Mahony is excessive.