Tuesday, July 17, 2007

LA's Deal: Words from Near and Far

In a rare Vatican reaction to a diocesan move -- in this case, yesterday's $660 million abuse settlement by the archdiocese of Los Angeles -- the director of the Holy See Press Office Fr Federico Lombardi SJ delivered a statement this morning on Vatican Radio.

Following is an English translation:
The agreement reached by the archdiocese of Los Angeles for the compensation of a great number of cases of sexual abuse on the part of priests, religious and laity of the archdiocese in the course of decades past is news that, understandably, has garnered much attention, whether for the number of cases, or for the [financial] terms of the payment.

But, as stated by Cardinal Mahony -- along the lines of what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have stated on many occasions -- the church is evidently, above all, aggrieved by the suffering of the victims and their families, for the profound injuries caused by the grave and inexcusable behavior of its different members, and has pledged itself decisively in every way to avoid further instances of this kind of wickedness.

The finalized agreement, with the sacrifices that it brings, is also a sign of this pledge, of the decision to close a sorrowful page and to be watchful going forward in means of prevention and the creation of an ever more secure environment for children and young people in all areas of the pastoral life of the church.

Still, given that the problem of abuse experienced from childhood and adopting protections against it doesn't just completely regard the church, but also many other institutions, it is just that these also take decisively the necessary provisions.

The church, conscious of its educational reponsibility in the protection of youth, intends to participate as a positive force in the battle against pedophilia, which rightly involves all sectors of society ever more extensively in many countries around the world.
Closer to the eye of the storm, in an interview with the Opinion Blog of the LA Daily News, Cardinal Roger Mahony opened up...

...and then a quibble ensued over whether the remarks were, indeed, on-record.

The paper maintains they were, so... here's a bit:

On what he means when he says he's taking responsibility:

I found in visiting with victims that unless you accepted responsibility in the name of the Church for what happened to them, you cannot authentically offer them an apology. And as I met with many victims, most of whose cases, practically all, took place long before I came here .... (I saw the) need to take responsibility in the name the Church so that I can personally take responsibility.

[LADN] pressed him further: What is he taking responsibility for? What specifically did he do wrong?

That's not the issue ... for victims, they just need the official voice of the archbishop to say whatever happened to you shouldn't have happened. It's sinful, it's wrong, and I apologize.... I'm sorry what happened to you in the life of the church, and I apologize....

[LADN] tried to stress the difference between "I'm sorry about what's happened to you" versus "I'm sorry for what I have done." Isn't there an important difference between the two?

That's true, but that's not what (victims are) looking for. They would love to meet the offender and hear him say that. They're looking for an apology from the Church....

What about the charge that the problem is a lack of discipline and orthodoxy in the seminaries?

Well, first of all that's one of the things that we still are studying. As you know, the bishops are conducting a study of causes.... In our case, many of the priests came out of the "good old days" -- Latin-only, cassocks-only.... Most of our cases did not come out of post-Vatican II, they came out of pre-Vatican II.