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Cardinal Mahony's quandary

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 19, 2006

Old friend Dom makes a good point about the Supreme Court decision requiring Cardinal Mahony to turn over priest-personnel files to the district attorney investigating sex-abuse claims. The cardinal, you may recall, argued that he could not relinquish the files, because they were protected by the confessional seal.

Dom's argument:

If Cardinal Roger Mahony hands those files over he will be exposed as cynical and manipulative, because if he really thought those files should be protected under the seal he would go to jail before violating that seal. Canon law requires no less. But if he turns them over, and it looks like he will, then we will see that Mahony simply used the seal of the confessional as a legal tactic to cover his butt.

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Show 21 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Apr. 22, 2006 11:42 AM ET USA

    What part of the ritual of the sacrament of reconciliation involves taking out a stylus, quill, pen, or PDA and writing anything down? The only sins that were written down were those of the hypocrites in John 8:6 and that was not a confession but an accusation. Anything written down could not possibly be matter under the seal of the confessional.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 21, 2006 8:23 PM ET USA

    Benedictus - Please add Bishop Vasa (Baker Oregon)to your distinguished list of desired successors. Also I have heard there may soon be an opening for a new papal nuncio to Mongolia - after all there are 168 Catholics there that would be well served by His Rogerness.

  • Posted by: benedictusoblatus - Apr. 20, 2006 5:58 PM ET USA

    Can anyone say anything good about the Cardinal? Is he kind to animals? Does he recycle (anything but suspicious subordinates)? I don't hate him. I just want him to go away - and take his "cathedral" with him. The Holy Father needs another shot at doing the right thing for California - by replacing H.E. Cardinal Mahony with a Cardinal Chaput or Burke or Bruskewitz or ????

  • Posted by: - Apr. 20, 2006 4:46 PM ET USA

    Roger has lost the support of many of the people in his diocese. I know of many who look outside the diocese for leadership on spititual matters. Plus the fact that the money funnel is being shut down.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 20, 2006 9:35 AM ET USA

    I am not sure that I understand how files and the seal of confession quite go hand in hand,because in most confessionals files are not kept or I think that they are not.So files seem a step away from the norm of the confessional and more an intrusion into ones personal life rather than "confessional property" of the Church or a priest. Noone likes their private life intruded upon in an unwanted manner;yet, possibly we should all live in a way that if it is there is nothing in it we need to hide.

  • Posted by: zonner - Apr. 20, 2006 7:34 AM ET USA

    Governor Keating,the former head of the Bishops' lay committee,said in a talk in my parish that the DA is a devout Catholic much scandalized by the Catdinal's intransigence.I hence doubt that he would be pursuing those files if they truly did compromise the seal.Remember severalyears ago Mahoney said PJPII told him the tridentine indult was only for old people and he did not intend it to contnue.That was a lie since JP set up many orders and seminaries to insure it continued. The poor Cardinal!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 20, 2006 3:01 AM ET USA

    Aren't there some diocese in Northern Africa,Iraq, Iran, that haven't any parishioners left? I think the kindest thing we can wish for some of our Amerilcan Bishops is the chance at martyrdom.

  • Posted by: www.inquisition.ca - Apr. 19, 2006 11:02 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately, I have to side with "altar boy" on this one.

  • Posted by: opraem - Apr. 19, 2006 9:59 PM ET USA

    the cardinal's 'heroic' stand on immigration looks more like a distraction every day. if you are watching the marches, protests, etc you may not pay much attention to the happenings in the court room downtown. his track record of being cynical and manipulative on a number of issues is lengthy. maybe 'uncle benny' will appoint roger as his first nuncio to mainland china?

  • Posted by: Gino - Apr. 19, 2006 8:03 PM ET USA

    Now we see why the good Cardinal needs to spend a lot of money on a public relations firm. He needs one to cover his tracks.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2006 4:12 PM ET USA

    He weakens the authority of the church by watering down the confessional seal. Last week he watered down the teaching authority of the church by maintaining that HIS and only HIS position on immigration is church teaching. He denied that this is a matter of prudential judgment for the laity. The next time he has to defend real church teaching no one will pay attention to him. He gets further out all the time. He obviously fears no correction.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2006 3:54 PM ET USA

    Di, the good cardinal is lawfully justified in utilizing “legal tactics” to protect himself from prosecution, i.e., cover his butt. What you, and all Catholics, should be concerned about is the Holy Father’s failure to reprimand and punish Mohony for his obvious mendacity and palpable misuse of the confessional seal, all in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the illegal, immoral and vile acts that were perpetrated by clerics under his jurisdiction. If Mahony were an SSPX bishop...

  • Posted by: Canismater - Apr. 19, 2006 1:48 PM ET USA

    I guess Mother Angelica's prayers are still efficacious, even after the stroke.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 19, 2006 12:57 PM ET USA

    This case should, heretofore, be referred to as the "LA Confidential" file. For all the Night Owls that is.

  • Posted by: Tony D - Apr. 19, 2006 12:39 PM ET USA

    Rather than the innocents in the Lesser Antilles, I would send him to a small, dwindling, but deserving convent that needs his services as chaplain. The Adrian Dominican sisters come to mind...

  • Posted by: Opa - Apr. 19, 2006 12:06 PM ET USA

    Why should you wish the good Cardinal on us in the Lesser Antilles. What could we have done to deserve him! We have our own troubles, thank you! This will be most interesting to follow.......... from a distance. Keep the good Cardinal - he's a product of your culture!

  • Posted by: rpp - Apr. 19, 2006 11:44 AM ET USA

    All priests I have confessed to could never remember if I even made a confession to him if we were outside the confessional. If I happened to mention something, they would become visibly uncomfortable. If these files are under a confessional seal, then they would not exist, no one would even acknowledge their existence. Doctor-patient confidentiality maybe. The confessional seal is absolute, when was the last time you saw your priest taking notes during your Sacrament of Reconciliation?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2006 11:37 AM ET USA

    Dom has a good point. On the other hand, I doubt that the Patriarch of the West would have the moral courage to go to jail on account of a non-Lefty issue. If the cardinal did wind up in the slammer, I'm not sure who should be more afraid: he or his new cellmates.

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - Apr. 19, 2006 10:14 AM ET USA

    Sadly, I fear there is a "cynical and manipulative" quality to much of what is done by our American hierarchy... but the good Cardinal is a stand out in that catagory. Consider too that if he and his chancery co-conspirators really believed those files were under the seal, they wouldn't use them to make decisions about priests, their assignments and their future. Poor Jesus, He deserves better than this from the successors of the Apostles.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 19, 2006 9:56 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Mahony will chain himself to his anti immigration law protest instead.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 19, 2006 9:16 AM ET USA

    There was and is no legal precedent to support the Cardinal's position in this litigation. It amounted to stonewalling, pure and simple. The good Cardinal needs to be promoted to a titular church in the Lesser Antilles.

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