Re "Abuse victims turned to Mahony in anger, pain,"
While I hope that some of the clergy molestation victims who met with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony feel better having done so, I have some serious concerns. I worry that any time victims of child sex abuse meet with any church official, there's a chance that deep wounds may be reopened and that information about crimes may be misused. I worry that younger victims now dealing with their own abuse might be tempted to seek out a church official for help, rather than law enforcement or credentialed therapists.
These recent meetings do not change the fact that, for five years, Mahony spent church resources and parishioners' donations to hire attorneys to deny victims justice. The church has much work to do to regain trust. Truth forums, like those held in South Africa after apartheid, would go a long way toward regaining that trust.
I had my moment with Mahony in 2002. It was at his office. He wouldn't let my friend who drove me there come in for moral support. Of course, he had a priest there as his sidekick and stated that a church employee was my advocate. If I didn't accept it, the meeting would be canceled. I thought he would hear my story and be so humbled and horrified that he would do something to stop abuse and help victims. His response was that of a coffee table. I found him an unfeeling figurehead with no heart. I'm glad for those victims who got some measure of relief talking with him. I am more thankful to the members of SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests] and the lawyers who represented victims. They provided justice and vindication.
In all of The Times' coverage of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, no one has asked the obvious question: Why didn't the families of the first victims call the police immediately instead of complaining to their bishops, who persuaded them to remain silent?
Sexual abuse is a crime. If those families had done the right thing, many later abuses would never have happened.
Also, why hasn't Mahony been charged with aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice?
Forrest G. Wood