Many have said that bigotry is bred from ignorance.
KFI's John Kobylt, half the afternoon drive team of John & Ken on Los Angeles' KFI 640 AM, may have illustrated this perfectly during an angry rant against Cardinal Mahony recently (Monday, September 21, 2009, 4pm hour).
In discussing a recent news article about Cardinal Mahony, the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and child abuse, John Kobylt said this about Cardinal Mahony:
"Any adult who has this much sympathy for this many child rapists, I really question what’s going on in Mahony’s mind itself. It’s impossible as a human being to have this much sympathy for child rapists. It’s just impossible. Why does he have such love for them? Why did he protect them for so long, to this day? Why? Is it just the feeling that ordinary common law doesn’t apply to religious institutions? That the canical (sic) law is more important? Or did he have a personal sympathy, some kind of personal bond with all these rapists. I don’t know. And why Steve Cooley, the LA DA, hasn’t run Mahony out of town, is a great mystery."
And then later:
"What can I say? Cardinal Mahony has an unhealthy sympathy for child molesters. Makes me wonder about him. Makes me wonder about any feelings that are stirring around in his mind and body. Because I’ve never seen that kind of thing in my whole life … I have no proof that Mahony is a child molester. I’m just sayin’. The only other people I’ve ever seen protect and defend child molesters have been other child molesters. Almost nobody else does."
Kobylt displays a lot of ignorance about what actually transpired over the years regarding sexual abuse in the Los Angeles archdiocese.
If Kobylt wants to continue to harangue Mahony for awful mistakes he made nine years ago, he has every right. But Kobylt's rant reveals an ignorance of a number of facts. By his own admission, the Cardinal mishandled aspects of the scandal. Even before the scandal erupted publicly in 2002, the Cardinal took steps to combat clergy abuse in his archdiocese. Some facts:
1. In 1994, Cardinal Mahony took the initiative of forming a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board. The board's explicit purpose was to deal with accusations of abuse against clergy in the archdiocese. The board may very well have been the first of its kind in the country. On the board was retired judge Hon. Richard P. Byrne. There was also a clinical psychologist, parents of victims of clergy abuse, and four priests. To read more about this board, see the informative 2007 article, "'I want my church to be free from those who prey upon others'" by the Honorable Richard P. Byrne (ret.).
2. Before the scandal erupted publicly in 2002, the archdiocese removed a number of priests from ministry for abuse of minors.
3. Cardinal Mahony only became aware of the late 1990's abuse by Father Baker when a lawyer hired by two of Baker's victims sent a letter to the archdiocese. (A civil case was settled for $1.3 million.) Legal counsel advised that the archdiocese not call the police. The reason for this is not known exactly, but I have speculated about these reasons in another post. One factor may have been that the victims were now adults. Another reason could have been that a call to police may have been viewed as an attempt to interfere in the civil suit. In addition, the archdiocese may have felt that the adult victims wanted privacy. The website of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) openly states, "Abuse victims, like rape victims, need their privacy to recover from their trauma."
4. Very importantly, the archdiocese has taken many steps designed to prevent sexual abuse by clergy and to encourage minors to report any clergy misconduct. People can read about these programs at the archdiocese's web site.
The archdiocese has trained thousands of archdiocesan clergy, staff, and volunteers in the VIRTUS program, which is designed to educate people about sexual abuse.
The archdiocese has also educated thousands of children through a program called Good-Touch/Bad-Touch, which provides "research-based, effective, body safety and violence prevention education for children in Pre-K through 6th grades."
And as someone who once attended Mass in Southern California, I can attest that my church's bulletin had an article EVERY WEEK on sexual abuse and information on how to report allegations. Pamphlets about abuse were also found in the lobby. (This was not long ago. I assume this is still happening.)
5. By his own admission, Cardinal Mahony mishandled aspects of the abuse crisis in his archdiocese. He has apologized numerous times publicly and privately over this. He has been especially remorseful over his handling of the situation regarding the despicable Michael Baker. (It was a case involving Baker which John & Ken discussed much during the hour.)
6. Finally, as far as Kobylt's wondering why L.A. D.A. Steve Cooley hasn't "run [Cardinal Mahony] out of town," Cooley himself has answered that question directly to Kobylt on two different occasions over two years ago! From John & Ken's July 17, 2007, show:
JOHN/KEN: I'm trying to figure out. What is [attorney John] Manly talking about? Manly keeps coming on our show and says you have stuff – basically what he's saying is – you have stuff, you should be prosecuting already. But I'm not sure what the "stuff" is that he thinks you have.
D.A. STEVE COOLEY: I can’t get into Mr. Manly’s head. He’s made outrageous statements in the context of those civil proceedings for which he’s been sanctioned. He’s made outrageous statements about me. He’s made outrageous statements on your program. I’m not going to try to get into his head. However, I do extend to him an invitation to deliver to us in writing any theory he has of criminal liability on behalf of anyone involved with this matter and support it like a good lawyer. If he has any evidence, come forward. The invitation has been extended to him and has been extended to him today by [Deputy D.A.] Bill Hodgman in writing.
(On the same show, Cooley also said,
"We have not had one report from any source, including Mr. Manly, to suggest that any violation of that [mandatory reporting] statute, that California statute that makes that an affirmative duty.")
And, again, from March 20, 2007, 6 p.m. hour:
COOLEY: There has not been one documented complaint that I know of that people in the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese, have violated the affirmative disclosure law since it became law.
In other words, Cardinal Mahony has not broken any law. Even frequent Church critic Tim Rutten has recognized this. From his January 30, 2009, column in the Los Angeles Times:
"[E]very cleric who can be criminally prosecuted already has been by the [L.A.] county's district attorney."
"Mahony has imposed a zero-tolerance policy on abuse so stringent that it's regarded as a model for institutions that care for the young."
"So far, the grand jury has subpoenaed records on 22 former priests, two of whom are dead, according to sources at the U.S. attorney's office. All of the relevant information on their cases has been in the hands of county prosecutors for years."
"The legal acrimony between the D.A.'s office and the archdiocese over all this has been corrosive enough to eat through titanium alloy. If any sort of criminal obstruction had occurred, does anybody really think L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley wouldn't have prosecuted?"
There you go.
As for Kobylt, "I really question what’s going on in Kobylt's mind itself … Makes me wonder about any feelings that are stirring around in his mind and body."