In fact, even a cursory look at the 1985 letter reveals that such a claim is blatantly untrue!
The author of the feckless piece is Joshua J. McElwee, a "staff writer" at the discordant publication.
A simple case muddled by an anti-Church agenda
The case is not very complicated. In 1985, the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, sent a letter to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on behalf of one of its priests who wanted to work in the United States.
The letter reportedly stated in part:
"[The cleric's] work as a priest has been highly regarded ever since his ordination fourteen years ago.
"He has shown considerable talent in recruiting groups of lay workers to assist in various capacities …
"Since his ordination he has regularly done summer vacation work in various American parishes and from time to time expressed a desire to join an American Diocese.
"The immediate reason for his being in the United States just now is that a few months ago he met a man with whom he had an unwholesome relationship about thirteen years ago.
"We have no reason to believe that there has been any recurrence of this problem, but [the priest] says that he would feel safer a long distance away and untraceable by this man."
One notices right away that the letter says absolutely nothing about any underage abuse or crime, and there is nothing in the letter that suggests the priest had had any problems with minors. It indicates a priest – likely gay – seeking to get as far away as possible from a source of disruption.
The Church takes immediate action
It turns out, however, that the priest had actually been suspected in England of abusing underage boys. Yet the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not know this until some five years later, in 1993, when it received another letter from England.
This second letter stated that the priest had been accused of sexual abuse of children, and that he was being recalled home to the UK.
What did the Archdiocese of Los Angeles do? It immediately revoked his faculties and sent him packing back to England.
The archdiocese heard nothing of the guy until 2008, fifteen years after it expelled him, when it received an anonymous phone call saying that the former priest was managing a Southern California trailer park. At that point, even though the guy was a merely a former employee of the Church, it immediately notified the police.
Most notably, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has never received any allegation whatsoever of any sexual wrongdoing by the guy when he was employed in L.A.
Church-haters see an opportunity to bash the Church
But the Reporter's McElwee doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good hit piece on the Church. McElwee lines up the usual suspects of professional Church critics to argue that Los Angeles somehow should have known that the priest from England was a child molester.
McElwee turns to the perpetually angry Church-basher Patrick J. Wall, an employee of the notorious anti-Catholic Southern California contingency lawyer John C. Manly. Wall wildly describes the 1985 letter as a "bunker buster bomb" that could somehow indicate a crime by Cardinal Roger Mahony. Uh-huh. (Wall has passed himself off as a canon law expert even though he reportedly studied less than two months in the field. According to a source in a 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times, Wall was expelled from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome after forging a letter in an attempt to get a leave from the priesthood. Wall is a former Benedictine.) [UPDATE, 5/13/12: We have since learned that Wall no longer works for John Manly. He now works for ... (drum roll) ... the nation's leading Church-suing attorney Jeff Anderson, from Minnesota!]
McElwee also quotes a member from the predictably hysterical group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) who somehow concludes that "kids were hurt in Los Angeles" because "the archdiocese knew that [the former priest] was a predator," even though there has not been a shred of evidence of any of this.
Indeed, the media has doled out enough fair criticism of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for its past mishandlings of abuse cases. But the Reporter is now scraping the bottom of the barrel and finessing facts in a desperate attempt to wring a story out of some new marginal information.
The Reporter is building a reputation for biased reporting on the abuse narrative, and McElwee's piece comes across as a baseless and sordid swipe at the Catholic Church.