Do we have a little spat going on now at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?
Archbishop Jose Gomez and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony seemed to be going at each other in recent days over the molestation scandal that just won't die, thanks to Mahony's years-long efforts to keep all the dirty little secrets under wraps.
On Wednesday, Gomez issued a rebuke, announcing that Mahony was being relieved of public duties now that the priest personnel records have been made public. And by the way, I'm not clear as to why it took Gomez two years to look into the files he describes as making "brutal and painful reading," for their descriptions of behavior that was "terribly sad and evil."
But even as Mahony was being kicked aside by Gomez, church spokesman Tod Tamberg was eagerly telling us Mahony is still "a priest in good standing" who can celebrate Mass and even, as a cardinal, vote for pope.
A priest in good standing? What in the world do you have to do to fall out of favor?
Within the last week, we've learned that Mahony and his top deputies helped shield accused molesters from police, which allowed them to prey on new victims.
Then, on Friday, Mahony did what he does best.
He went into full PR mode.
He fired off a crotchety letter to Gomez in which he spun like a champ, arguing that he has in fact led the way on reforms protecting children. He spun as if he was trying to get up enough speed to spin himself all the way to heaven.
He asked Gomez why he's had nothing to say until now, which is a fair but rhetorical question, since Mahony knows PR better than anyone. And although the cardinal admitted to a mistake or two while overseeing the festering molestation scandal, he had the audacity to claim that "nothing" in his "background" had equipped him to "deal with this grave problem."
Not common sense?
Not the master's degree in social work?
Not the earlier experience of the molestation scandal in Stockton, where Mahony was assigned before his move to Los Angeles?
Do you need special training to know that the rape, abuse and psychological torture of children has to be stopped immediately? Or that your first responsibility when you hear about a child being molested isn't to protect the church's reputation, but to get help for the victims and make sure the priest is brought to justice?
Mahony would have you believe that the mid-1980s were the Dark Ages.
They were not.
The sexual abuse of children was heinous then, as it always has been. When it happens, you save the children before you try to save your own career, because if you don't, everything you claim to stand for is destroyed.
Folks, if you have it in you, say a prayer for this man whose many good deeds will always be overshadowed by his failings. For years, he has admitted misdeeds and offered apologies only when forced to, and many of his reforms, too, were driven by public pressure and lawsuits on behalf of more than 500 victims.