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Jewish Journal

Cardinal Mahony assaulted because of clergy scandal

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 4, 2007 | 8:30 am

The LA Daily News reported today that shortly after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to a massive settlement with victims of pedophile priests that Cardinal Roger Mahony was beaten up outside Cathedral Our Lady of the Angels.

Mahony, 71, revealed the attack during an annual conference in October before hundreds of stunned priests, saying a man assaulted him because of the scandal, according to four priests who attended the conference.

News of the assault comes as the bulk of the church’s $660 million settlement with victims began being paid out Monday, with more than $500 million in checks going out in the mail. The settlement with 508 alleged victims was approved by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge July 16.

The attack on Mahony occurred in July near Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, and it took the cardinal about a month to heal, said the Rev. Sal Pilato, principal at Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Gardena. The cardinal was dropping off letters at a mailbox when he was assaulted, priests said.

“Somebody recognized him and attacked him,” Pilato said Mahony told the gathering. “It was shocking because it was an act of violence and it was someone we know and respect.”

Mahony declined to comment on the reports.

“Whatever conversation might have taken place between the priests and their bishop was a private conversation and not meant to be public,” said Carolina Guevara, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
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Mahony told the priests that after his attacker recognized him, the man began shouting expletives and knocked him to the ground, said another priest who asked not be identified.

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It was not known whether Mahony’s attacker was a victim.   

Those at the October conference at Our Lady of the Angels said Mahony shared the story about the assault within the context of the sexual-abuse scandal. Priests described the confession as both deeply moving and, because of the violence, disturbing.

Mahony was telling the priests they all had a price to pay for the sexual abuses perpetrated by their brethren when he relayed the story of the assault as an example of the personal toll he’s endured, several priests said.

I believe that Cardinal Mahony is sincerely sorry for the behavior some of his parish priests exhibited before and after he took charge of the archdiocese in 1985. I can even accept that church officials thought sending pedophiles to therapy instead of reporting them to police was in the best interest of everyone. But, considering Mahony’s legacy, Father Joseph Shea’s intimation that he took the attack like a sacrificial lamb—“Like Jesus, we must offer our lives and even suffer for Christ, even for things we didn’t do”— is a bit sickening.

(Hat tip: Brent Hopkins)

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