In response to the question of whether calling the police immediately about child abuse was the right thing to do, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's answer that involving law enforcement wasn't the way such cases were handled in the 1980s is telling.
Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, appears to accept that the morality of an action or inaction is dependent on the societal framework in which it occurs. This contrasts with the Roman Catholic Church's stance that morality is fixed and independent of current cultural norms.
It's too bad that Mahony and the church cannot also accept that the approach to other issues — such as birth control, the role of women in the church and homosexuality — should reflect the society in which they occur, not an ancient one.
It seems that morality is only relative to societal conditions when it benefits the church.
Regarding Mahony possibly avoiding prosecution for "a concerted effort to hide abuse from police," I would submit that running out the clock for criminal prosecution of a religious child-molestation ring seems like awfully small ball for an organization that purports to be working on an eternal timetable.