Skip to main content
General News

Institutional Thinking and the Protection of Children

By February 8, 2013December 22nd, 2015No Comments

I offer these thoughts in light of the carnival-like atmosphere swirling around the abuse problem and revelations in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Last week, after sexual abuse documents finally saw the light of day, current Los Angeles Archbishop moved swiftly by removing a Los Angeles auxiliary bishop Thomas Curry and barring the former archbishop, Cardinal Roger Mahony from administrative or public duties.  The announcement was received with cautious praise for Gomez and hope that the Catholic Church was finally prepared to make the safety of children their first priority.

The Story Doesn’t End There

The very next morning, a spokesman for the Archdiocese, Tod Tamberg, clarified Gomez’ remarks and noted that while Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry’s resignation remained intact, the statement about Cardinal Mahony’s status needed clarification.  Tamberg’s clarification indicated that Mahony was a priest in “good standing” and that his day-to-day activities would not change.  Canon law was cited and duly noted that no bishop has the authority to restrict the movements or activities of a cardinal.  Mahony himself weighed in-attempting to justify his behavior by stating that he had done everything in his power to prevent child sexual abuse and that at the time of his ordination to the priesthood he was ill-equipped to deal with such a problem.  In the end, nothing changes.  Mahony can continue to live the life of a prince of the church and even vote for the next pope if that happens to take place before he turns 80 in three years!

This is “institutional thinking” at its most base level.  I’ve seen the same kind of thinking in other institutions such as the Boy Scouts when they fought to keep secret their own Perversion Files.  It’s the type of thinking that keeps children in danger of exploitation and abuse.  It’s the type of thinking that needs to change if we hope to protect the future generations of children.