The Catholic Church isn’t evil, just dumb in all the right ways.

Oh, Catholic Church.  You’re so adorable (read: despicable) when you try to do sneaky, underhanded damage control as if you’re clever and everybody else in the world is an idiot.  You could just say “Hey, we fucked up, it’s not like we’re infallible, and we’re going to do our best to make it right” and move on.  But no, you try to cover it up, succeeding only at making yourselves look even worse in the process.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files last Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago to make the painful history public.

Ok, better six years late than never.  Sure, the families victimized by priests are having to suffer through the wait for justice, but you guys take your time.

But it now appears that the files the church released with much fanfare are incomplete and many are unaccounted for, according to the abuse victims’ lawyers. In addition, on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, in apparent violation of a judge’s order.

What?  No, we’re not trying to protect the guilty.  We’re the moral foothold for all of humanity!  Do you think we want known child molesters in our ranks?  We just…spilled sharpie a whole bunch of times.  That it landed on a bunch of names isn’t intentional attempts to obscure those names, it’s a miracle!  I mean, what are the odds that our ruptured sharpies so neatly covered only names?  This is proof god exists, not proof that human beings can be full of shit.

At issue is whether the survivors of abuse and the public will ever learn which church officials were responsible for mishandling or covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

Abuse victims had insisted that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles release the records as part of a settlement in 2007, which provided $660 million to more than 500 victims. Other Catholic dioceses that have settled with victims have released similar records.

Ah, there’s money and culpability involved.  Those two things have an interesting effect on the Catholic Church.  I hear they can even makes fetuses inhuman.  I’m sure the Catholic Church would love to make good by their transgressions, but Jesus has already forgiven them, so there’s no need to actually do anything to ease the suffering of their victims.  Jesus will take care of that, so they’ll just hang on to this $660 million.

And they’ll hide the names of those involved in order to protect them from accountability.  They’re already accountable to Jesus, amirite?  No need for them to stand trial twice.

But J. Michael Hennigan,  a lawyer for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, said in an interview that while there were probably a few errors, there was no intention to withhold information.

“I would be surprised if we did this job perfectly,” he said. “The team that worked on this worked under pressure sometimes late into the night.”

It’s not intentional deceit, it’s just mistakes.  Mistakes they’re just not going to bother to fix.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles fought for six years all the way to the State Supreme Court to block the release of the documents. Early in January, Judge Emilie H. Elias overturned a previous decision, and ordered the archdiocese to lift the redactions of the names of certain kinds of officials: archbishops and bishops, vicars for clergy members and directors of treatment facilities, as well as pastors, “church agents” or employees who had supervisory responsibility over an accused priest and were made aware of complaints or suspicions about him.

But on many pages it appears that the names of supervisors, like pastors in parishes or the supervisors of religious orders, are missing.

Very convenient mistakes.

It says a lot for god’s chosen church, the sole occupants of the moral high ground, the guiding light for all of humankind, when they have to argue “No!  We’re not slimy, cold, and care more about our image than the suffering of our victims like so many times in the past!  On this one occasion, we’re just really, really incompetent.”

Criminally incompetent, one might say.

And the kicker?  Robert Mahoney, who was responsible for most of this, is going to get off the hook with nary a scratch.  Raping a child is clearly not nearly so bad as loving an adult of the same gender or having sex as a priest.  The church gets really pissed if you do that.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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