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Priests endorse Mahony

posted by awelborn

Vote of Confidence

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, recently criticized by a national Catholic panel for his legal tactics in sexual abuse cases, received a vote of confidence this week from the Los Angeles Council of Priests, an elected body representing the Roman Catholic archdiocese’s 850 clergymen.

In a resolution passed unanimously earlier this week, the council praised Mahony for consistently showing “great concern for the protection of children” and for fighting to preserve secrecy on personnel files of priests suspected of child sexual abuse.



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Larry Tierney

posted March 27, 2004 at 10:09 am


The LA Times had a scathing editorial about Mahony and his off the wall legal tactics. Just a matter of time before he is exposed for all to see.



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Roger H.

posted March 27, 2004 at 11:41 am


Pardon the cynicism, but isn’t this sort of like the National Democratic Party giving a vote of confidence to President Clinton during his impeachment? Why would anybody expect anything less?



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Daniel Baker

posted March 27, 2004 at 1:53 pm


Looks like the vote had all the integrity of Soviet elections.



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Dismas

posted March 27, 2004 at 4:28 pm


I’m not sure the last two comments are fully warranted, if the council is an elective body of all the priests in the LA diocese. Maybe they’re partly blinded for whatever reason, but there’s some serious character attacks on 20 priests here, none of whom, AFAIK, have been accused of anything.



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Daniel Baker

posted March 27, 2004 at 8:20 pm


Fair enough. Mea culpa, mea cupla, mea maxima culpa.



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 27, 2004 at 11:17 pm


These two quotes struck me as typical for the sources:
“Boy, that’s depressing,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests. “But I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. In a medieval culture, you swear loyalty to the king. It reflects a real culture of timidity.”
Richard Sipe, a former priest and an expert on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, said the vote was significant because “it implicates all of them on the priests’ council in whatever Mahony’s done.”
In a culture where everyone is guilty until innocence is proven, then I suppose Mr. Clohessy has a valid point. But last time I checked, Lost Angeles was part of the United States of America. Ditto with Sipe’s comment about the priests’ statement “implicates all of them” in Mahoney’s actions. It does no such thing. If I acknowledge Mike Tyson as a good boxer, it does not implicate me in any of Tyson’s crimes or other boorishness, does it? Or if I commend Frank Sinatra’s albums, am I implicated in his fraternization with the Mob? If Clohessy and Sipe continue to make such grandiose, over-the-top claims and comments such as this, they will lose support rather than gain it. And if they want the support from within the Church to bring about real reform, then they’d better find the knob for tone and lower it from “10″ down to about “3″. I’ve been supportive of Mr. Clohessy’s call for reform in the Church, generally speaking, but he’s losing me quickly. In regards to Mr. Sipe, as he is a former priest with a well-known agenda, nil nisi bonum defunctis.



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katie

posted March 27, 2004 at 11:33 pm


Local (L.A.) radio stations reported this afternoon that Cardinal Mahoney recently substantially reduced the size of this council – my impression is that this council was previously 40-50 priests instead of the current 20. The vote is being characterized as a publicity stunt on the part of the Cardinal – whose PR issues are huge.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted March 27, 2004 at 11:34 pm


Fr. Stanley, even if Sipe and Clohessy are over the top, one fact remains: The Church not only is a medieval culture, many conservative Catholics believe that “true” Catholicism must maintain a fundamentally medieval identity. Such a demand works quite well to maintain a system of governance that isolates bishops and demands that their lay and clerical subordinates pay them near-obsequeous deference, as if those subordinates were nothing but courtiers. The only way that will change is when those subordinates assert their rights as heirs to salvation and demand change.
Fortunately, things are changing. In December, priests in the New York Archdiocese confronted Cdl. Egan about his lack of support for them. Priests in Baltimore were fed up with Cdl. Keeler’s arbitrary release of priests who were merely accused of sexual abuse.
The problem with your criticism, Fr. Stanley, as well as Sipe’s and Clohessy’s, is the lack of any discussion about canon law. How does canon law hold such priests and bishops accountable in ways that civil and criminal law cannot? Why isn’t canon law being applied in these situations?
If the Pope said anything worthwhile throughout this whole crisis, it was his call for the rigourous application of canon law last month. However, once again, we get plenty of words and no action from Rome.



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John

posted March 28, 2004 at 6:43 am


One is reminded of Ali Baba and the “20″ thiefs. Sorry, I could not resist.
Crd. Mahoney has already been convicted if not in a court of law but in a significant segment of Catholic public opinion, and by his own words and behavior. (His feud with Mother Angelica). Did he not call for the resignation of Crd. Law when the Boston scandal was breaking?
If he is forced to resign, what will become of him?



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catholic@yahoo.com

posted March 28, 2004 at 10:19 am


He should be asking, “do you want fries with this?” along with a lot of other incompetents that we currently have.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 10:22 am


Here, for the record (see http://www.worldwiderant.com/MT/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1605) is how Joe D’H asserts his rights as an heir to salvation.
== Quote ==
But I don’t think Rome’s “pontificating” (pun intended) on various geopolitical subjects, ultimately, has anything to do with the crisis. Rome would be doing it anyway. Rome has always been arrogant enough to tell everybody else what to do in subjects ranging from geopolitics to economics to marital sex. That’s what happens when you have religious hierarchs who are isolated from any sense of accountability and transparency. They tend to think in esoteric, theoretical terms — and become even more isolated as a result.
== End quote ==
Now, I don’t believe in obsequiousness (though I do believe in proper respect for vicars of Christ – as well as, of course, basic charity). But I think one ought to take with a serious grain of salt the advice re: attitudes toward the hierarchy of someone who rejects its teaching pretty much root and branch. “Consider the source.”



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michigancatholic

posted March 28, 2004 at 10:27 am


Dismas, when it’s been so bad there for so long, what do you think might constitute the clerical body there? I mean, priests who stand up for the orthodox catholic faith are probably mostly dead or gone. Who would stay and work for Mahoney, but Mahoneyites? No wonder they’re willing to back him up. Especially if he has a mafia in place, like the one that existed in Chicago for so long…..



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michigancatholic

posted March 28, 2004 at 10:29 am


Kevin, I think you’re conflating several classes of items that aren’t really related.
Believe it or not, the Church does have the ability and obligation to speak about the parts of sexual behavior, marital or not, which affect the operation of the human soul. Such speaking out is upopular, yes, but it is necessary.
On the other hand, I’m not so sure the Vatican should be playing power politics with the European Union. That’s a whole different kind of activity.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 11:11 am


Michigan,
I’m not conflating anything. I’m just quoting Joe.
He’s the one who says the Vatican shouldn’t be doing EITHER.
Furthermore, economic and political/military behavior – like sexual behavior – affects the human soul – i.e., can be analyzed in moral terms. Not everything “political” is just “power politics.”



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michigancatholic

posted March 28, 2004 at 12:24 pm


The fact is, Kevin, that Catholic moral theology is more concerned with the individual soul. It is merely fashionable to have all these social causes-takes the emphasis off personal responsibility.
You show me one place in Scripture where Christ prescribed temporal governmental policy, re the Roman imperial government INSTEAD of teaching to individuals, and I’ll point you right at Judas. That’s what he wanted, because he thought Christ was a worldly political messiah, sent to set the Jews free from Roman rule.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 12:48 pm


Michigan,
I agree that the salvation of the person is most important.
My point is simply that in economics/politics/etc., it is persons who are acting – no less than in, e.g., marriage.



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Fr. Paul

posted March 28, 2004 at 1:07 pm


Regarding priest’s councils, most members are ex oficio, e.g. vicars and deans, which means they are appointed by the bishop. The ex oficio members usually constitute the majority.
The elected members usually represent various groups, e.g. years of ordination, pastors, religious, parochial vicars, and special ministries and non-English ministries. These are elected by priests who can vote only for their group.
Several years ago, I expressed surprise to a friend in the chancery that a certain priest had been elected to one of those slots. It was a small group, and I personally knew the majority of members and who they voted for, yet somehow a priest who had less than a third of the vote “won”. My friend laughed at me and pointed out the obvious: all ballots go through the bishop’s secretary. She’s the only one who sees them. What the bishop wants, he gets. Who the bishop wants, he gets.
Of course, I’ve seen this work the other way too, for a too-trusting bishop can get burned if someone else has the ear of the secretary.
Moreover, does anyone believe that this LA resolution was anything other than an initiative of Mahoney himself (through one of his appointees on the council), and does anyone believe that the members of the council, elected or not, would publicly oppose it? Career-suicide – which is, of course, at the root of the problem.
Perhaps if Jimmy Carter and the UN had monitored the elections and the vote under secret-ballot, this “vote of confidence” might actually be newsworthy. My bet is it’s all the work of the PR firm Mahoney hired.



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michigancatholic

posted March 28, 2004 at 1:33 pm


Except, Kevin, I make the decisions about my sexual life, and I and only I, am responsible for them. God will judge me on the basis of them.
On the other hand, I am a voting American and don’t always like the way things turn out, because, you see, even though I have personal responsibility for voting, I do not have personal responsibility for things that are done against my wishes. I don’t even have full personal responsibility for things that I roughly agree with but cannot direct the course of.
These two things–personal sexual morality and political morality–are very different.
There is no group soul–only individual souls, who have full, partial or no responsibility for aggregate group actions.
In scripture, Christ preached to individuals. You know, if He had wanted to, He could have overturned the Roman government with a clap of his hands. But he did not. He spoke only to a few people in only one of the many provincial backwaters of a huge empire. Did you ever wonder why that was?



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 2:22 pm


But, Mich, you still have some responsibility for your vote – for what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, even though you can’t know for sure whether you’ll succeed. And more to the point, those you elect certainly have a great deal of responsibility for how they conduct themselves.
And this “Jesus didn’t say …” doesn’t wash here any more than with regard to contraception. Jesus reiterated the 6th commandment and even interiorized it. The Church discerns that using contraception is a type of lust. Similarly, Jesus reiterated that we ought not steal. The Church discerns that some sorts of (political-)economic behaviors are, in effect, stealing. Similarly, Jesus reiterated that we ought not murder, or even get angry (on the contrary, we must love our enemies). The Church discerns that if certain conditions aren’t met, war is at odds with that teaching.
At any rate, you at least admit that the Church has teaching authority in the area of morality – that just because one lives in Vatican City doesn’t mean one is less likely to know what one is talking about vis-a-vis morality! What I was responding to was the opposite view.



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Ken

posted March 28, 2004 at 2:26 pm


MC -
The Catholic Church has a long history of addressing social/political issues -
Think “legalized abortion”.
Think – Rerum Novarum and it’s anniversary encyclicals.
Think slavery (can’t call the exact documents, but they sought to mitigate slavery’s abuse)
Think Pius XI’s encyclical against National Socialism (largely written by the man who became Pius XII)
Think… but you get my drift.
The individualism you are arguing is more American than Catholic, and contains the same error, inverted, as that happy corporatism that proclaims “we’re all going to heaven TOGETHER. It’s the only way we get there”.
In fact, the social and the individual are inextricably linked, making impossible and “either-or” dichotomy.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 3:15 pm


Amen.
For more on which, see de Lubac.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted March 28, 2004 at 3:17 pm


The issue from which Prof. Miller of the Franciscan University in Steubenville is trying to draw attention is the fact that no effective mechanisms exist w/in the Church to hold any bishop accountable, as the result of a governance system that reflects the bureaucratic tendencies of Imperial Rome. Nowhere do Scripture or Tradition maintain that Petrine primacy must be executed through such a system. The faithful of Milan once elected Ambrose as bishop. Nobody elected Mahony except a Pope who has been constantly lax in hold any of his episcopal appointments accountable for anything (save Absp. Millingo, who was an extreme case in the first place).
It would behoove Prof. Miller, as befitting his position as a professor of theology at an allegedly orthodox Catholic college, to address the issue directly rather than to engage in the personal attacks for which he has become quite well known.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 4:28 pm


I’m not trying to draw attention from anything, Joe, just noting your actual agenda. You’re the one trying to change the subject.
However, I would say that precisely because bishops aren’t mere papal legates, the pope is right to be – to say the least – loath to remove them largely to make you happy.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted March 28, 2004 at 8:44 pm


Prof. Milller, the Pope almost excommunicated Millingo and did excommunicate Lefevbre, so don’t tell me that he’s “loathe” to remove bishops. Moreover, pastoral discipline doesn’t necessarily equate to removal, and I haven’t made the equation on this thread. I have stated (and will continue to state) that this Pope has done an abyssmal job holding such men as Law, Weakland, Mahony and Grahmann accountable for their misfeasance.
Prof. Miller, it’s not the Pope’s job to “make me happy.” It’s the Pope’s job to act as an effective steward of the Church that Christ gave him. Tell me, how does keeping such men in episcopal office relate to being an effective steward?
Given the top-down, hierarchical nature of church governance, unless the Pope acts to discipline the men he appoints, nobody else can do so. That’s the nature of the issue, Prof. Miller, one which you continue to avoid addressing.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 28, 2004 at 9:52 pm


Joe, you’ve made your own understanding of what “the issue” is very clear. Please don’t try to redefine it midway through.
Yes, the pope has dealt in those ways with a few bishops. I said he’s “loath”; I didn’t say he “refuses in principle.” L., for instance, did something for which he knew the penalty would be automatic excommunication, I believe (ordained other bishops without approval).
When bishops have done negligent things in the past, though, they’re not necessarily so totally unfit for ministry that the nature of the episcopal office (vicars of Christ!) ought to be ignored as though the bishops were mere papal legates. The main reason, I maintain, for removing bishops would be to make people like you feel better. (And it’s not clear what one can do to “discipline” a bishop besides remove him.)
Any more than, in the days in which bishops were “elected,” one routinely saw bad bishops being subsequently run out of town by their flocks.
Finally, the fact is, we’re getting better bishops over time, as the council’s and pope’s teachings concerning the call to holiness, and its concrete implications, sink in to the Church. Pope-bashers need to come to grips with that. Of course, you don’t like a lot of the Church’s concrete moral teachings, any more than its teaching concerning the meaning of and need for the hierarchy within the communio. That means, ironically, that you’re – in more than one way – part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Enough, now. These questions have been asked and answered many times on these blogs, and they’re not sincere anyway. As I’ve said, between what I quoted from you above, and other things people like Mark and I have noted – your approval of genocide – the fact is that the Church is simply incapable of satisfying you without ceasing to be the Church.



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michigancatholic

posted March 28, 2004 at 10:03 pm


No, Ken. Read some scripture.



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Ken

posted March 29, 2004 at 12:28 am


MC -
I have – all of it more than once. What did you have in mind?



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Ken

posted March 29, 2004 at 12:31 am


Oops… too fast on the button.
You wrote:
“The fact is, Kevin, that Catholic moral theology is more concerned with the individual soul. It is merely fashionable to have all these social causes-takes the emphasis off personal responsibility.”
A large body of papal teaching concerns itself with social and political causes. Do you reject that body of teaching?



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted March 29, 2004 at 2:53 pm


Prof. Miller of Franciscan University in Stuebenville, Ohio, you say that its unclear what a pope can do to discipline a bishop w/o removing him. What about canon law? Surely, a theological expert such as you can ascertain whether canon law would apply in such circumstances. Or do you not wish to address the issue because it would further reveal your lack of substance?
As far as popularly elected bishops being “run out of town,” that would certainly be more preferable to the current system in which the corrupt (O’Brien), misfeasant (Law) and tyrannical (Grahmann) are left in place until disaster strikes — or despite disatster, in Grahmann’s case.
You say that the Church cannot satisfy me w/o ceasing to be the Church. Prof. Miller, the Church is the body of all believers who profess that Christ is the ultimate atonement for humanity and who place their trust his atoning work on the cross for their redemption. It’s not the hierarchical tyranny you would have us believe it is (with Satan’s help, of course).



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Mark Shea

posted March 29, 2004 at 6:09 pm


Amazing how many people who argue with Joe are agents of Satan. Kevin, knock off being a satanic mouthpiece, will ya? *I’m* the agent of Satan around here.
On the other hand, since *anybody* who believes in apostolic succession as the Church understands it is a willing tool of the devil, according to Joe, I guess there’s room in the infernal regions for, well, practically every serious Catholic in the world but Joe!



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michigancatholic

posted March 29, 2004 at 8:30 pm


Kevin, you never did answer my question:
“In scripture, Christ preached to individuals. You know, if He had wanted to, He could have overturned the Roman government with a clap of his hands. But he did not. He spoke only to a few people in only one of the many provincial backwaters of a huge empire. Did you ever wonder why that was?”
Explain.



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michigancatholic

posted March 29, 2004 at 8:37 pm


And in fact, Christ went out of his way to avoid doing what everyone thought he’d ought to do–overturn the Roman government and act like a proper Jewish king–a “promised one,” a political solution to the oppressed people of Israel. He didn’t. He persistently kept talking about personal sin to the exasperation of many at the time. He still does that, my friend, to the exasperation of many at this time.



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