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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
West Jordan, Utah
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