Yesterday I shared a post written by Gerard Nadal wherein he explained that when it comes to the subject of same-sex marriage, we were not “outmarketed,” as Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in an interview on Fox News, but we were “outevangelized.”
Today comes another story from the papers. One in which your intrepid, if simplistic, naive, ignorant (and whatever other description you care to make), blogger can calmly, albeit sadly, compose a brief post with the title above. A story that points clearly to the reasons why we are being “outevangelized” these days.
It’s because of the priestly sex abuse scandal. But you knew that already, right?
When Pope Francis mentioned Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s novel, Lord of the World a week or so ago, I picked up the free copy available for Kindle readers, and began reading it. And though I’m a little more than half-way through the book, learning of reasons why in the fictional future, notable laymen, and priests and bishops by the score, are bailing out of the Church’s ranks, I won’t be giving you any spoilers if I tell you that not once is this apostasy due to anything remotely approximating the length and breadth of the sex abuse scandal that has been unfolding in reality (and worldwide) for nearly 30 years.
Truth indeed is stranger than fiction. Joe Six-Pack may not know diddly squat about the ins and outs of etiquette and protocol in the dandified world of diplomats, but when it comes to protecting my kids from predators, I only need to be as solid, and simple, as St. Joseph to know that this scandal prepared the way for all manner of folks to lose faith in the Catholic Church.
We can tsk, tsk, and tut, tut, until we are blue in the face that no more priests than folks in general have ever sexually abused any children throughout the years, but it rings hollow. And it especially rings hollow because the cases were, and seem to still be, covered up in a feeble effort to save the reputation of clerics, all at the expense of our children.
I’ve said my piece on this matter a long time ago, and recently as well. It should be pretty obvious how destructive these crimes, and their coverups, have been, not only to the faithful, but to those who the Church seeks to evangelize.
That would be the whole world, in case you’ve not been paying attention.
But enough of my yammering. As Qohelth warns in his enigmatic little book (that somehow slipped into the Canon of Scriptures), “Of making many books there is no end: and much study is an affliction of the flesh.” He’d probably say the same about blog posts.
So with an open mind, and an open heart, I send you now to Los Angeles to read a story of overconfidence, hubris, and folly. A story where, though changes in tactics to deal with the crisis were implemented (after previous measures were discovered to be ineffective), the damage done was like that from a wildfire set ablaze in the foothills of Los Angeles on a Santa Ana wind blown week. And as Cardinal Mahony knows well, “it takes us years to recover from those.”
We are reaping the harvest of those years now.
For Roger Mahony, clergy abuse cases were a threat to agenda
From the start of his tenure as the leader of L.A.’s Catholics, Roger Mahony had ambitious plans for the archdiocese. But clergy molestation claims were vying for his attention.
BY HARRIET RYAN, ASHLEY POWERS AND VICTORIA KIM
December 01, 2013
A year after arriving in Los Angeles, the youngest archbishop in the U.S. Catholic Church had a schedule and an agenda befitting a presidential candidate.
Roger Mahony raced around the city in a chauffeured sedan, exhorting labor leaders to support immigrant rights and rallying hundreds against a proposed prison in Boyle Heights.
Where his predecessors had talked up praying the rosary, Mahony touted his positions on nuclear disarmament and Middle East peace, porn on cable TV and AIDS prevention. No issue seemed outside his purview: When an earthquake struck El Salvador, he cut a $100,000 check. When a 7-year-old went missing in South Pasadena, he wrote her Protestant parents a consoling letter.
Reporters took notes and the influential took heed. The mayor, the governor, business executives and millionaires recognized a rising star and sought his company.
Among the thousands of papers that crossed his desk in September 1986 was a handwritten letter.
“During priests’ retreat … you provided us with an invitation to talk to you about a shadow that some of us might have,” Father Michael Baker wrote. “I would like to take you up on that invitation.”
The note would come to define Mahony’s legacy more than any public stance he took or powerful friend he made.
Kevin O’Brien: Mahony is not Everyman, but He may be Everybishop.