06.22a Corruption and Pederasty in the Catholic Church in Los Angeles and Mexico. How can anyone remain a member of the Roman Catholic Church? This Dallas Morning News series, mentioned by me on June 19, is truly shocking. Read this excerpt first, and then see whether you agree with my inflammatory comments at the end-- remembering also my May 31 post on Cardinal Law's reward for his scandalous behavior. What the Dallas Morning News has discovered, in brief, is that the cardinals in Mexico City and Los Angeles conspired to shuttle a pedophile priest back and forth across the border when things got too hot for him, that they kept the police off his trail, that they blocked prosecution in Mexico, and that they and the Mexican police and judges lie shamelessly. From the Dallas Morning News, part 3:

The Mexican bishop had trouble on his hands. An attacker had nearly killed one of his priests, whose sexual misconduct was well known to the bishop. And now villagers were telling police about a stream of young male visitors to the priest's parish residence.

The U.S. bishop had a different problem: a lack of Spanish-speaking priests to serve a growing immigrant population.

And so, in 1987, the Rev. Nicol�s Aguilar got a fresh start in Southern California. Just nine months later, he was on the move again, leaving behind one of the largest child sexual abuse cases in Los Angeles Archdiocese history. Again, scandal was contained with the priest hiding abroad.

Father Aguilar's tale of international flight fits a pattern that Catholic Church leaders have repeated around the world, a yearlong Dallas Morning News investigation has found.

In this case, the two bishops have become prominent figures in the global Catholic hierarchy. One, the Rev. Norberto Rivera, is now Mexico City's cardinal and one of his country's most powerful men. The other, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, leads the largest diocese in the United States.

Father Aguilar is more than just an old skeleton in their closets. After dodging criminal charges in California, where police said he had molested at least 26 boys, he was charged in a 1997 Mexican abuse case. Church leaders kept him in ministry while the matter was pending and even after his conviction in 2003. Recently, he was spared punishment on a technicality, a Mexican judge said.

Cardinal Rivera did not respond to The News' written requests for information about the priest. Asked after a recent Mass what had become of Father Aguilar since his return to Mexico, the cardinal said: "I'm absolutely ignorant." He would not elaborate.


"Everyone knew you had to stay away from Aguilar," said Mr. Cadena, who is now an engineering professor at a nearby technical school. "But when I complained to the priests in charge, they kicked me out of school."


And by December 1987, two young altar boys there were telling their mother that Father Aguilar had been molesting them.

She contacted Our Lady of Guadalupe's head priest. He begged her to stay quiet, she said. The head priest also alerted the cardinal's head of clergy personnel, Monsignor Thomas Curry.

Meanwhile, the woman's husband contacted another couple Father Aguilar had befriended. Soon, their boys also were saying that they had been abused.

On a weekday in early January 1988, their mother called the parish school, whose principal notified police the following Monday morning.

It was too late. Monsignor Curry -- who is now a bishop and still working for Cardinal Mahony-- had advised Father Aguilar of the allegations at least two days earlier and suspended him.

Father Aguilar had told Monsignor Curry he would return to Mexico, according to police reports. But the monsignor did not notify authorities of the priest's plans. Meanwhile, Father Aguilar had a local relative drive him to Tijuana.

Later, Sister Judith Murphy, a nun who was Cardinal Mahony's in-house lawyer for 17 years, refused police requests for church records.

"My biggest problem was the stonewalling of the Catholic Church," said Gary Lyon, lead detective on the Aguilar case, who has since retired.

Added Janice Maurizi, a Los Angeles prosecutor, "The archdiocese facilitated his flight."

No criminal charges accusing anyone of a cover-up have been filed in this or any other Los Angeles clergy abuse case. But the district attorney's office is investigating the possible "criminal culpability of anyone in the hierarchy of the archdiocese" who dealt with abuse accusations, said prosecutor William Hodgman, who heads the inquiry.


Cardinal Rivera also reminded Cardinal Mahony that he had given him, when sending Father Aguilar to Los Angeles, "a summary of the priest's 'homosexual problems.' " (Click the links about to read the full text of the letters.)

That term is "code for having been caught with young boys," said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a former official with the Vatican's embassy in the United States, who has reviewed many abusive clergymen's personnel files. He said top church leaders generally don't consider consensual adult homosexuality a problem, despite their public statements to the contrary.

Cardinal Mahony wrote back to Cardinal Rivera, saying "we do not admit priests with any homosexual problems." He said he had never received the warning and asked Cardinal Rivera to send it again.


The district attorney's office, seeing no sign that the church was going to return the priest and fearing that he wouldn't be extradited, submitted its 10 strongest cases for prosecution in Mexico. (That country's legal system allows Mexican citizens to be prosecuted at home for crimes committed abroad.)

The cases went nowhere.

Enrique Zepeda, the top lawyer at Mexico's consulate in Los Angeles, said Los Angeles police did not produce legally required evidence that the suspect was from Mexico. Likewise, no evidence showed that Father Aguilar was a priest, said Mr. Zepeda, who did not handle the case at the time. He and his bosses in the Mexican attorney general's office would not release supporting documents.

But readily available Mexican church records show that Father Aguilar was born in Mexico and ordained to the priesthood there, and that he has spent most of his adult life in clerical assignments in that country.


The unit's records indicate that Mexican authorities did ask three times for the accusers' birth certificates, promptly received them in each instance and reported losing them at least once.

In 1995, Mexican prosecutors finally took the case to a judge, who dismissed it as too old to prosecute.


The only similar case The News could find --of another priest who was supposed to face trial in Mexico on molestation allegations from California-- also languished for years and finally was dismissed as too old.


"Father Nicol�s told me that what I was doing with him was normal, between men, that some people did that," the boy told police, in a statement obtained by The News.

The priest also threatened to kill the youngster's mother or his younger brother if he told anyone about the abuse, according to court documents and interviews.

A new case in Mexico:

In 2003, six years after the initial complaints, state Judge Carlos Ram�rez found Father Aguilar guilty of a misdemeanor abuse charge based on allegations by a 14-year-old.

Judge Ram�rez sentenced Father Aguilar to a year in prison, but the priest remained free on bail while appealing the decision to federal court. Federal judges recently let the conviction stand but spared Father Aguilar punishment on the grounds that the crime was too old, Judge Ram�rez said last week.

Yet it was Father Aguilar himself who had delayed the case, the judge said, by waiting four years to appear in court and answer the charges.

Earlier, Judge Ram�rez had dropped a felony charge against Father Aguilar for corruption of minors. "The psychological exams on the supposed victims did not show signs of sexual abuse," he said.

But that's not what police psychologist Bibiana Rojas wrote in her report, a copy of which was obtained by The News. After questioning Ms. Gonz�lez's son on Dec. 20, 1997, Ms. Rojas found "aftershocks of severely traumatic experiences of a sexual nature."

Judge Ram�rez said criminal investigators never showed him the report. The lead investigator declined to comment.


A Tehuac�n Diocese official said that Father Aguilar had abused about 60 kids, according to Ms. Gonz�lez. She said the Rev. Teodoro Lima told her this in explaining why the church couldn't afford to pay for her son's counseling.

Cardinal Rivera of Mexico City
...told the Italian Catholic journal 30 Giorni in 2002 that "as far as I am aware, there has not been any documented report" to Mexican authorities of a priest molesting children.
Remember these are just reporters from a medium-sized newspaper, without the access that a big-readership paper, network TV news, a major magazine, the Roman Catholic hierarchy (if they cared to confess their sins), the U.S. government, or the police would have had. And remember that these are just excerpts from one story in a series that already has three parts and is ongoing.

We have already learned that an astounding large number of priests in America are homosexual and prey on teenage boys (by the way-- what do all the people who told me homosexuals have no greater tendency than heterosexuals to be child molesters say about that? A majority of priests, it seems, are not homosexual, but we don't hear of them going after teenage girls. Should homosexuals really be allowed to volunteer to be scout leaders?). We have also learned how a number of American bishops have encouraged this pederasty-- at least in the sense of not punishing the priests and of giving them a new set of boys to prey on in a new parish once the game is up in their first parishes. And we have learned that the Vatican is unconcerned, except that it does think the bishops are being unfairly criticized. Thus, at all leadership levels the Roman Catholic Church seems to be corrupt.

I wonder whether this is not a conjunction of interest of two distinct and evil factions of the Church. One faction would be the liberals, many (most?) of whom are homosexual, perhaps atheist, perhaps even in the church for the sexual opportunities, and who do not view pederasty as a sin. The other faction would be the conservatives, who have a mild distaste for homosexuality but for whom the authority of the Church is the most important thing in the world, far outweighing the suppression of sin or the pastoring of ordinary, unordained, people. Or perhaps I am being unfair-- the conservative position might be that there is a shortage of priests, and it is better to have a pederast priest, who will lead a relatively small number of children into sin, than no priest at all, in which case many fewer people would make their confessions, receive communion, and do other things which in Catholic doctrine are as important or more important to salvation than ethical conduct. Both factions would agree that pederasty is at most a mild problem in itself, and the real problem is to keep anybody from finding out about it.

I will close with a 2002 story about the Pope's response to the American pederasty problem:

"The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God," said the Pope in his address, the text of which was released by the Vatican.

He added that a "generalised lack of knowledge of the nature of the problem, and also at times the advice of clinical experts, led bishops to make decisions which subsequent events showed to be wrong".

The 81-year-old pontiff also said that the "immense spiritual and social good" of a vast majority of priests in the United States should not be forgotten.

Pope John Paul II admitted that pederasty is a sin, but he could hardly do otherwise, since Christian doctrine for 2000 years has already said that clearly. No news there.<[p> But did he condemn the pederast priests themselves? Not here. Did he condemn the bishops who helped the crimes? No-- he said that lack of education and the advice of experts "led bishops to make decisions which subsequent events showed to be wrong". This is absolutely shocking. Does it take advanced training in theology to know that if someone has abused boys in parish A you should not transfer him to work with boys in parish B? (Oops, the bishops did have advanced training in theology.) Does it take extensive experience in counselling and dealing with sinfulness (Oops, the bishops did have extensive experience.) No. The Pope's remarks clearly showed he didn't think it was much of a problem.

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