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SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER

Your story [“Cardinal Sins,” February 27–March 4] is the best thing in print on the Southern California [Catholic Church molestation] cases. Still, I’m less critical of the survivors’ attorneys’ role than you. Perhaps it’s because my loyalties are to both camps, and the two are not irreconcilable. But tell me which you think is better: that survivors all get their day in court or that they get real money to help assuage real pain? Because winning in court is not guaranteed, especially given that very few survivors have clear and convincing evidence against their abusers. I agree it is important to expose the church for all its ugly deeds, but one or two showcase trials could accomplish that. Even then, I imagine it will be decades before the church is purged of this problem, if ever. Anyway, I think the article is astonishingly good. Pulitzer material.

—Udo Strutynski
Alhambra

 

Amazing piece of writing on Mahony. And scary as hell to think that if you’ve got a penchant for little boys and girls, all you have to do is give your life to God and his “people” will protect you. Oh yeah, and you get paid for it. How nice. I knew there was a reason I loathed that Catholic schoolgirl uniform I wore years ago.

—Kathleen Krochko
Long Beach

 

Jeffrey Anderson pitches a baseless conspiracy theory within the Catholic Church and Los Angeles legal community, with plaintiff’s counsel, opposing counsel J. Michael Hennigan, and Cardinal Mahony at the center. Anderson draws on the newsworthiness of the crisis in the Church and capitalizes on the fears of a justifiably suspicious population. L.A. Weekly should retract the false statements it published and make the effort to correct the misconceptions it promoted in this story.

What bothers me even more than Anderson’s unethical approach are the thin fabrications that he weaves to pull together holes in his theory. For example, I have never at any point stated or acted in any way to indicate that I would prefer a resolution that would preserve Cardinal Mahony. A careful look at the Anderson piece would reveal that these statements are not even quotes that can be attributed to me. Rather, they are Anderson’s own comments, mischaracterized to tie together actual quotes out of context.

I believe that removal of Cardinal Mahony, or any cardinal who has been complicit in the long history of sexual abuse against children in the Church, would certainly be an important achievement. However, without attention to all of the roots of this evil, such an accomplishment may be merely symbolic. If one cardinal is simply removed, he will be replaced by another. As we have seen, the removal of Cardinal Law has not, in itself, eliminated the problem in Boston. Until what is rotten in the infrastructure is gutted, built anew, and replaced, this is not a throne upon which we should have anyone sit.

Anderson does not understand the scope of the problem, and instead panders to public skepticism and outrage generated by the exposure of the crimes committed within the Catholic Church. As author Jason Berry recently stated in the National Catholic Reporter, “We have been witnesses to the eroding integrity of bishops who concealed sexual dynamics in clerical culture because the system of rewards in clerical culture demanded their silence.” The recent publications of the National Review Board and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice are just beginning to shed light on the role of the bishops and the Catholic culture as a whole.

Finally, Anderson goes a step too far by insulting the survivors of clergy abuse by calling them “a passive, largely ethnic laity in Los Angeles, which has never openly questioned the integrity of Catholic leadership.” Again, his characterization demonstrates his overall ignorance of a larger societal problem, this time by blaming the victim.

As counsel for the plaintiffs, we continue to pursue a resolution that includes public disclosure of the crimes and cover-ups within the Church, redress for damage that has been done, and reform, to the greatest extent possible within the confines of civil litigation. We are using all of our resources, and will continue no matter what it takes. Our goals reach far beyond the usual boundaries of business decisions, and our clients are courageous people. I would call very few of them passive or unquestioning.

—Raymond Boucher, Esq.
Beverly Hills

We stand by this story. The reference to “a passive, largely ethnic laity in Los Angeles” is clearly not directed at the survivors of clergy abuse, but rather at the 5 million mostly Asian and Latino Catholics of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

MORE ABOUT THE JEWISH CARPENTER

At the end of his review of The Passion of the Christ [“Sacred Blood,” February 27–March 4], Scott Foundas makes a few coy, smirking references to “certain people” who have been making life hard for Mel Gibson. I figured he was talking about Jewish higher-ups in Hollywood, until I read that apparently these certain people are “more conservative than Governor Ah-nuld.” That threw me. There are certainly conservative Jews, but does Foundas really think that Jews in Hollywood are that conservative as a group? Jews are actually not one large group with a single opinion on The Passion of the Christ. Several Jewish leaders have come out in support of the film. For the record, I’m Jewish and I thought the film was a powerful work and not anti-Semitic, although I was puzzled by the way Pilate’s responsibility was soft-pedaled.

—Adam Gottschalk
Los Angeles

Foundas has put into clear focus what is beating under the surface in this movie. I feel he was able to get to this because of an intellectually honest approach — something rare in regards to takes on this film. His tone allowed the review to probe with accuracy the power this film is trying to evoke, while others have remained caught up in the fury outside it.

Foundas cuts through clouds of hyperbole, straight to the heart of the story: earnest love and compassion inside the teeth of monstrous violence and tyranny. That sense of clarity is key in understanding why Gibson’s presentation is radiating so much raw energy. Few, if any, are getting to that core and are instead caught up in reaction to the impact itself. Gibson seemed to sense the present times are either hungry or frightened.

—Russ Payne
Tampa, Florida

REPERCUSSIONS OF RALPH

I appreciate your inclusion [in the February 27–March 4 issue] of the broad range of reactions by Harold Meyerson [Powerlines: “Groundhog Day”], Marc Cooper [Dissonance: “See Ralph Run”] and Doug Ireland [“Ralph’s Dark Side”], regarding Ralph Nader’s decision to run as an independent. It interests me that there are so many knee-jerk reactions in the Democratic ranks. I did not view Nader as a spoiler in the 2000 election, but as a candidate who offered a clear, progressive alternative to the lukewarm, Republican-lite message of Al Gore. Nader’s campaign at this point lacks base and coherency, but it’s still early. He’s playing a potent card — fear. Is there anything the Democratic Party fears more at this moment than another Bush White House?

Nader’s bid may also be a bluff, a challenge, if you will, to the Democratic Party to embrace progressive values in the ticket or party platform, and offer a substantive (not just electable) alternative to Bush. The most progressive candidates, Dean and Kucinich, were marginalized both by the party, as noted by Mr. Cooper, and by the mainstream media. While the party leadership would have us believe that the strategy should be to attract Republican voters away from Bush, they might also consider trying to retain Democrats and bring disaffected voters back to the polls. If this is done to a sufficient degree, I believe Nader will drop out. I suggest that the Democratic Party leadership take a cue, and take it early.

—Eileen McCabe-Olsen
West Jordan, Utah

ERRING ENDORSEMENT

There was a factual mistake in your online endorsement of Barbara Boxer for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Contrary to your assertion, Dianne Feinstein actually voted for the Iraq war resolution, not against it.

—Minh Nguyen
Van Nuys

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