A lesson for the Vatican
The New York Times said the following in an editorial:
Pope Francis has been meeting recently with eight cardinals he selected to shape proposals for reforming the Roman Catholic Church. It is too early to tell what will result from an agenda that will range from Vatican finances to the recruitment of new believers. But the deliberations surely cannot afford to overlook the shocking price tag announced as a final figure that the Los Angeles Archdiocese paid to victims of child sexual abuse by priests.
A decade of litigation, shameful denial and fierce resistance to civil authority has cost the archdiocese more than $740 million in monetary damages, with the spiritual toll far from tallied. Church lawyers said this was an end to litigation that saw more than 500 victims receive compensation, with the archdiocese taking out costly loans, selling property and even tapping into cemetery perpetual care funds to pay for it. In the process, the archdiocese was forced by the courts to release secret records that confirmed systematic cover-ups of priests’ crimes.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, who led the archdiocese during the scandal years, reportedly is not expected to face criminal charges, despite records showing that he shielded abusers and ordered that evidence be withheld from criminal investigators. He retired in 2011 to his childhood parish in California and was ultimately rebuked by his successor, but that hardly brought an end to the problem, which Vatican reformers cannot duck.
The misconduct of numerous diocesan leaders wielding near total power in the abuse scandal must be confronted in Rome and remedied. Evading this will dim the great hopes for the church that Pope Francis has stirred.