At the Commonweal blog, Paul Moses puts his finger on what is, for me, the dark heart of the story emerging from documents newly released in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, about priest abuse cases in that archdiocese:
These scenes from internal records of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles offer further evidence that a coverup was orchestrated at high levels of the church.
Retired archbishop Roger Mahony has persistently claimed he was in the dark about much that went on at a day-to-day, nitty-gritty level of management in his diocese, and that he was oblivious to the specific details of many of the abuse cases he claims his subordinates in the chancery handled. But as Victoria Kim, Ashley Powers, and Harriet Ryan note in a Los Angeles Times article yesterday surveying the evidence in the newly released files, Mahony was directly involved in handling--and, more to the point, covering up--abuse cases.
This is by now an old story for us who are Catholic: priest abuses minors; priest is moved by diocesan or religious authorities; when priest's abuse comes to light, his ecclesiastical superiors feign shock at his history of abuse; said superiors lie boldly about what they knew when; when court action forces opening of files, it turns out that said superiors not only knew, but also covered up.
I'm sick to death of these stories, of the abuse and the lies.
I'd change Paul Moses's observation in only one way: it should read, "These scenes from internal records of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles offer further evidence that a coverup was orchestrated at the very highest levels of the church." The consistent, unvarying pattern of coverup in one diocese after another emanates from the See of Peter and the pope himself.
In a top-down, tightly controlled hierarchy such as that of the Catholic church, this is simply how things work.
The graphic: a CNS photo from the 2012 ad limina visit of the ordinaries of the archdiocese of Los Angeles with Pope Benedict. Cardinal Mahony is standing beside Benedict.