Who is Roger Mahony? Mahony, a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, is the former Archbishop of Los Angeles. Mahony retired as head of the L.A. archdiocese in 2011 amid claims he had helped cover up the abuses of pedophile priests. In January 2013, as documents stemming from a 2007 settlement provided strong evidence that Mahony and other top Catholic officials had, for decades, covered up instances of rape and molestation, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez stripped Mahony of all public duties, sending major shockwaves through the religious community. In light of the abuse scandal, some have petitioned for Mahony to not take part in the conclave that will select the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who retired on Feb. 28, 2013.
Roger Mahony was born in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 1936. Mahony became a priest on May 1, 1962, and in 1964, he obtained a master’s degree in social work from the Catholic University of America. En route to becoming Archbishop of Los Angeles—a prestigious appointment he received in 1985—Mahony served as Auxiliary Bishop of Fresno, Titular Bishop of Tamascani and Bishop of Stockton.
Mahony is best known for a sex abuse scandal that culminated with a $660 million legal settlement in 2007. In all, 508 alleged abuse victims participated in the lawsuit, and each plaintiff received an average of $1.3 million. While Mahony and the Roman Catholic Church of Los Angeles apologized for the abuse, calling it “a terrible sin and crime,” he’s subsequently referred to himself as a “scapegoat.” Both Mahony and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas have said they were naïve about the effectiveness of their attempts to treat abusive priests.
Mahony’s rebuke at the hands of his successor, Archbishop Gomez, was extremely unusual, and it made headlines across the country. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” Gomez said in a letter, according to the New York Times. “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers, and they failed. We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”
In February 25, Mahony traveled to Rome to help pick who would follow Pope Benedict XVI, and while many have called on him to bow out of the conclave, which is set to begin on March 12, 2013, many catholic officials, among them former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, insist Mahony belongs at the Vatican for the historic event. “There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it,” Levada said, according to the AP.
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