Monday, December 2, 2013

Mahony is not Everyman, but He may be Everybishop

For only $189 million, you can build something this ugly.  For about four times that amount, you can compensate victims you failed to protect.

The Los Angeles Times has published a long article on Cardinal Mahony and the Sex Scandal.

This series is based on nearly 23,000 pages of internal documents from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and various religious orders that were made public this year in compliance with court orders. In addition, Times reporters reviewed thousands of pages of depositions and court filings and interviewed dozens of people, including church officials, victims' families and law enforcement officials. Cardinal Roger Mahony declined to be interviewed or respond to questions sent to his attorney.

... so the authors assure us.

One of the interviews the Times conducted was with Detective Gary Lyon, who speaks about Mahony and his cohorts ...

"They lied as bad as any thug or ex-con I've ever come across on the street," Lyon recalled in an interview. "They were more interested in saving the reputation of the church than helping us find these young victims."
***

But my point here is not that the bishops are sometimes scoundrels who have abandoned the faith and who enable the sexual abuse of innocent children and lie about it, my point rather is the character of Cardinal Mahony that emerges from the Times article, which is itself a condensed version of a 23,000 page portrait.

Here's what we learn about the man.

He's a narcissist.

Grandiose, self-righteous, smug, filled with an elevated sense of his importance, petty, petulant, pissy, not to be trusted, vain, conceited, and consumed with a sense of entitlement and indignation.  He allows the faith to falter in Southern California, builds a despicably ugly cathedral that costs hundreds of millions of dollars, attacks Mother Angelica and EWTN for being orthodox and daring to criticize him, and - God have mercy on his prideful soul - he lies when the case calls for it.

He is, above all, (take note defenders of Lying for a Good Cause) a consequentialist who will do whatever it takes to serve the greater good, which (it seems) is never the Greater God.

***

Now I'm not living in a glass house and throwing stones - or in a crystal cathedral, for that matter.

It takes one to know one, and I not only have more than a few narcissistic tendencies, I work with actors for a living, for crying out loud.  Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink - we're all busy gazing at our reflections in the pool instead of lapping it up.

Indeed, there are a few aspects of Mahony's character that are actually appealing - his concern for the poor, his hustle, his eye for detail (about things that matter to him, the safety of children apparently not being among of them; nor honesty).

And we know that this is a Church of sinners in need of a savior.

But our failure is not merely a failure of marketing, as Cardinal Dolan fails to note, but as Gerard Nadal and as Frank Weathers  point out, our failure is the failure to be good Christians.

A Facebook friend is emphatic on that point.  He writes ...

On Dr. Nadal's piece - it's a "yes and no" - we can't evangelize if the people are not willing to do it. Laymen want a top-down approach to evangelization and don't want to get their hands dirty. So, if we don't evangelize, what choice do we have but to try and "out-market"? I'm tired of the laity for making the excuse that if bishops and priests are not leading the way, we simply sit on our hands. 

Indeed.

So whether we've got Mahonys for bishops or not, it's up to us.

This Times piece shows us what happens when we live our lives devoted to the wrong sorts of things, and then continue to make excuses for our appallingly bad behavior.

By contrast, the best way to market, and the only way to evangelize, is to become true Christians, to become like Christ.

May the Lord give us that grace, though it always involves suffering.

1 comment:

Joey Higgins said...

Indeed, there are a few aspects of Mahony's character that are actually appealing - his concern for the poor, his hustle, his eye for detail (about things that matter to him, the safety of children apparently not being among of them; nor honesty).

But even this sometimes comes at, "interesting times." For example, he had a march for, "undocumented workers," during one of the sex scandal investigations or at least while the timing was very close.

/Not a fan, but good article - thanks!