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Release on Mahony Followed New Policy

June 10, 2002

"Mahony Is Falsely Accused in PR Snafu" (June 5) was unfair and crossed the line of objective reporting. On June 4, the Los Angeles Archdiocese issued a press release disclosing that its lawyers had received an allegation of misconduct by Cardinal Roger Mahony some 20 years ago in Stockton. Even though the allegation was preposterous and the cardinal emphatically denied that he had ever met or even heard of the person making the allegation, the archdiocese did what it has publicly said it was going to do: It disclosed the allegation, began an investigation and reported it to the proper authorities.

As it turns out, The Times got to the individual before the police or archdiocesan investigators did and, under questioning, the individual recanted what was reported to the archdiocese. He, in fact, confirmed the cardinal's denials. Instead of simply reporting the facts--that the publicity that now surrounds the Catholic Church continues to bring forth claims that are sometimes wildly false, and that the archdiocese had nevertheless adhered to its policy, even though it knew the allegation was false--The Times characterized what happened as a "PR snafu," saying that Cardinal Mahony's "spin machine" had "spun out of control."

There was spin in that story all right, but it came from The Times, not us. The church has taken a lot of criticism of late from The Times for protecting itself from public scrutiny or from inquiries by law enforcement. Some of this criticism is deserved. Now, however, The Times takes aim at us for publicly following the policies we said we would follow. It is easy to imagine that if The Times had been the first to surface this allegation, it would have been the first to criticize the archdiocese for not disclosing the information.

Cardinal Mahony and the archdiocese will continue to do all that is possible to protect our children and to deal openly, fairly and decisively with all allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Tod M. Tamberg

Office of Media Relations

Roman Catholic Archdiocese

of Los Angeles

*

"L.A. Archdiocese Enlists Services of Top PR Firm" (May 30) reported that the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles had hired Sitrick & Co. to bolster the public's image of the church. I was disappointed to read the advertisement on June 6. There is nothing wrong with what they say they will do. However, Sitrick and Cardinal Mahony missed the three most important statements they could make: We made unconscionable mistakes; we are sorry we made them; and we won't let them happen again.

Ken Gorman

Hermosa Beach

*

A bishop's crosier symbolizes his role as a shepherd leading his sheep to verdant pastures. However, time and time again, the modern-day flock realizes it must find its own moral direction, leaving the shepherds in the rear. Unless dramatically transformed, the church will soon find itself a cultural anachronism, with a clergy presiding over ceremonies and rituals but lacking all influence and power.

Mahony's public relations campaign attempts to assure the flock that, despite decades of moral trespass, the shepherds now know the way. That way, of course, had already been mapped out by the sheep.

Mark Herder

Van Nuys

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