The current Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez, has publicly criticized his predecessor, Roger Mahoney, and removed him from any "administrative or public duties" for his failure to act in the priest child abuse scandal.
The scandal has been unraveling for years, but, in my own recollection, this is the first time that one bishop has so directly criticized the actions of another member of the heirarchy--and not just any bishop either, but a Cardinal to boot.
Mahoney's defense was lame. "Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem,” he said. Mahoney has a master's degree in social work.
It is true that, at the time he got his degree in 1962, child sexual abuse was not discussed as openly as it is today, and less was known about the pathology of the disorder, the extent of incidence, and its effects on victims. (The Child Abuse and Prevention Act was passed in 1973; he should have known something by then.)
Besides, the documents don't lie. Over 12,000 pages of testimony finally saw the light of day, and they clearly established Mahoney's culpability in the scandal. You don't need much "background or education" to know that simple human decency required intervention that Mahoney did not supply.
He, of course, is far from the only one. More heads should roll. The old boy network among the bishops will see this as a way of throwing Mahoney to the wolves in exchange for taking the heat off the rest of them. They never cared much for Mahoney anyway--he didn't get hysterical enough about women or "the gays."
It is hard to imagine Archbishop Gomez not confering with other bishops, or getting clearance from the Pope, before he went public with his criticism of a Cardinal.
Says National Catholic Reporter (NCR):
What Mahony and others -- Cardinals Bernard Law, Justin Rigali, Edward Egan, Anthony Bevilacqua, and a host of archbishops and bishops -- really didn't understand was the degree to which their moral compasses had been distorted by the strong magnetic pull of the clergy culture. In their fierce allegiance to that exclusive club at all costs, in their willingness to preserve the façade of holiness and the faithful's high notion of ordination, they lost sight of simple human decency and the most fundamental demands of the Gospel.
They're still in "circle the wagons" mode, hoping to ride out modernism until, in some imagined future, they can run things again. Alas for them, and hurrah for the rest of us: that ship sailed long ago.