The Brazen Clericalism of Cardinal Mahony

As archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony was famous for his petulance, dispatching angry letters to priests and others whom he considered insufficiently deferential. But now that he finds himself in a subordinate position as a retired and rebuked bishop he displays none of the deference he once demanded.

No sooner had his successor stripped him of his diocese-wide “administrative” and “public” duties than the cardinal took to his “blog” to pout over the demotion through a snubbing letter. Hinting at a powerful faction of Los Angeles movers and shakers behind him while adopting a tone of passive-aggressive innocence, Cardinal Mahony wrote on his blog that “others” had “encouraged” him to publicize his letter to Archbishop Jose Gomez. “I hope you find it useful,” he said.

The letter was designed to embarrass, undercut, and scare his successor: “When you were formally received as our Archbishop on May 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth. You became our official Archbishop on March 1, 2011 and you were personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012-again, in which we were deemed to be in full compliance. Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.”

Sadly, Cardinal Mahony’s bullying seems to have worked at some level. Archbishop Gomez would have been justified in strengthening his original rebuke after this appalling letter (not to mention defending himself against its insinuations and fallacious misdirection).