Friday, February 27, 2004

Two Dioceses / Two Cardinals Singled Out in Report

Cardinal Egan and Cardinal Mahony...mentioned as "problems" in The Catholic Review Board Report:

Although this was an ambitious agenda, the Ad Hoc Committee did not have as great an impact as some of the bishops had hoped it would have. One bishop claimed that this was owing to the fact that the committee "had no teeth" and was not supported by some influential bishops, out of concern that it was an intrusion on a bishop's authority and it would increase litigation against the Church.20

Problems continued to fester in other dioceses. Litigation was filed against the Diocese of Bridgeport and then-Bishop Egan in 1993 alleging that the diocese had been aware of complaints against certain priests since at least 1982 but had failed to take actions to remove the priests from ministry. For example, according to published reports, a 1990 diocesan memorandum indicated that there was a "developing pattern of accusations" that Father Charles Carr had abused young boys. (Significantly, Carr had been admitted into a seminary years earlier despite the fact that a priest who had known him for years reportedly had recommended against his admission, asserting that he lacked the emotional maturity required for the priesthood.) Nevertheless, Carr was not suspended until 1995. Indeed, Carr was actually reinstated in 1999 and served as a chaplain in a nursing home until Bishop Egan's successor, Bishop Lori, removed him in December 2002 and instituted laicization proceedings. Shortly after Bishop Egan left Bridgeport and was installed as Archbishop of New York, Bishop Lori settled pending litigation against the diocese for more than $12 million.

Another troubled diocese was the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. After allegations were made that Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, had allowed numerous predator priests to remain in ministry, the Archdiocese engaged in a very public spat with law enforcement authorities who questioned his level of cooperation in the criminal investigation of sexual molestation charges. The Archdiocese resisted grand jury subpoenas seeking priest personnel files by arguing that communications between a priest and his bishop were privileged. This argument did little to enhance the reputation of the Church in the United States for transparency and cooperation.