Responding to controversial media reports about Pope Benedict’s handling of abusive clergy, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, has praised “without hesitation” the future Pope’s quick and helpful response to allegations in the California archdiocese.
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the future pontiff responded “quickly and affirmatively” to all requests for assistance from prelates in the United States during the year 2002 with reports about the American sexual abuse scandal.
Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF responded “swiftly” and advised how to proceed in cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahony wrote on his blog.
“We never had delays or a lack of proper response,” the cardinal continued. He noted that then-Cardinal Ratzinger responded quickly and approvingly whenever he proposed a certain priest be laicized and no longer able to serve as a priest.
Recently the New York Times and other outlets have published reports questioning the case of a priest who sexually abused more than 200 students at a Milwaukee school for the deaf. The reports claimed the priest was “protected” from laicization in the 1990s by the CDF.
The accuracy of those reports has been challenged by figures like Fr. Thomas Brundage, the judicial vicar who oversaw the case. He said the reports are based on an incorrect letter from an archbishop and also do not understand that the Roman Rota, not the CDF, handled cases of sexual abuse until 2001.
Cardinal Mahony’s praise for Cardinal Ratzinger’s work continued:
“Without the proactive and helpful assistance of Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation over these years, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles would never have been able to move forward aggressively to remove priests from ministry who were proved to be guilty of the sexual abuse of minors.”
Without the CDF’s insights, the cardinal added, “many guilty priests would still be considered priests in our Church.”
Cardinal Mahony expressed gratitude towards the present prefect and staff of the CDF, saying they continue with the same visions and policies Cardinal Ratzinger set before he became Pope.
Those procedures and policies have helped the Archdiocese of Los Angeles resolve cases to “make certain that the Church is a safe place for all peoples, especially children and young people,” the cardinal wrote on his blog.