By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Testimony, memos and letters at the time offered a rare glimpse into his formative years as a priest and bishop in Fresno and Stockton from 1962 to 1985, and reflected on his moral standing as shepherd of 5 million Catholics in Los Angeles.
Mahony emerged as a man of contradictions and memory problems. He claimed never to have known a priest to have sex before 1968. He claimed no knowledge of any sort of molestation until 1985.
YET MAHONY WAS A LICENSED social worker from 1964 to 1970 and served as a chancellor and a vicar between 1975 and 1980 — rising through the ranks of the Catholic Church as the Vatican was disseminating procedures for dealing with priests who had been accused of solicitation and pedophilia.
Victims’ lawyers have long suggested that perhaps he could have done more in 1984, when he was notified that Father Oliver O’Grady, then a Stockton priest, had been a serial molester.
Or that, once a cardinal in Los Angeles, Mahony could have taken swift action as he did in 1981, when, according to documents released with his deposition transcript, he learned of families who complained that Father Antonio Munoz had taken their sons to Tijuana and “had some type of sexual misconduct.”
Back then, Mahony fired the offending priest. “Your assignment and your faculties were canceled because of problems of a very serious and grave nature,” he wrote to Munoz in 1982.
However, Mahony says none of this registers anymore. “As I get older, more distant things I can’t remember,” he said at his deposition.
On Monday, Drivon summed up the tragedy: “None of us would be here today if Mahony had dialed 911. But thousands of victims would not be compensated for their pain and suffering either.”
Long before the Diocese of Orange entered into a $100 million settlement in 2004, Drivon swore to depose “everyone in sight” and fight in court “if it takes a lifetime” to expose the Catholic hierarchy.
He and Boucher had been inspired by the clergy scandal that erupted in Boston in 2002, which led to the removal of former Cardinal Bernard Law. Documents had been the Holy Grail in Boston.
But now, in Southern California, there was acknowledgment that all the documents would never come out. And as Ryan DiMaria, a victim of priest sexual abuse and a lawyer for more than 70 victims in Los Angeles and Orange counties, had said, “The most any of us will ever get from this process is some measure of healing.”
Wrapping up his interviews, Boucher looked burdened by this realization, and weary from the fight. “As a Catholic, I’m in a constant state of confusion,” he said. “I see a priest and I wonder what he may have done. The beauty of my religion is gone. It’s a loss of innocence for the victims, the lawyers and Catholics. But the church never had innocence. It’s an immovable object.”
Nevertheless, he, Drivon, dozens of other lawyers and hundreds of victims banded together and tried to move the Catholic Church. They fought, grieved, cried, and bickered among themselves.
On Monday, they simply accepted the enormity of what they had been up against all along.
Now they could rest.