Skip to comments.Massive PR machine?
Posted on 07/31/2007 4:32:45 AM PDT by monomaniac
Massive PR machine?
Some say Cardinal Mahonys willingness to meet with sexual abuse victims nothing more than a public relations stunt
Over the past year, Cardinal Roger Mahony has met individually with 70 victims of clergy sexual abuse. Archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg told the July 30 Los Angeles Times that Mahony has scheduled more meetings with sexual abuse victims and that he has said he will meet with any victim who wants to meet with him.
But Lee Bashworth, 37, who claims abuse by former priest Michael Wempe, told the Times, that, though he would relish an opportunity to tell Mahony one-on-one what I think of him, such a meeting would mean playing into [the cardinals] massive P.R. machine, and I refuse to do that.
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the Times, has cautioned members against meeting with Mahony because such discussions could cause them further harm.
Oftentimes people think theyll get a very sympathetic, compassionate response, and sometimes they dont, Survivors Network spokesman David Clohessy told California Catholic Daily. Or sometimes theyll expect that a bishop will be more forthcoming, especially, for example, where theres no dispute about the veracity of their claim. And yet they still walk away, feeling disappointed and hurt that they havent sort of gotten more.
However, Clohessy said, I dont think weve ever said, you shouldnt do it. Its every survivors individual choice.
Clohessy said he understands the fear of a PR machine, especially with Mahony. With such meetings, bishops can position themselves as men who didnt get it but now they do; they know that in the PR world that generally works, that Catholics are especially a forgiving people, and if we think they just didnt get it and now they do, thats certainly a better impression to have of ones bishop rather than to think that hes cold-hearted or self-serving.
The Times said while some victims have found meetings with Mahony beneficial, others havent. But no one interviewed by the newspaper has said they regret meeting with him.
Erin Brady said she thought he was not compassionate when they met in mid-February, though Mahony did sit there and take it from me -- and I was not easy on him. I give him credit for that.
Victim Mark Gauers wife, Cecilia, said that in their meeting, Mahony did not apologize but said, I will take responsibility for what happened. He apologized repeatedly to Dominic Zamora, who says he was molested by Michael Stephen Baker a priest whose case Mahony has said troubles me the most. Mahony says forgive and forget, said Zamora. I said, I aint at no AA meeting. A Neville Rucker victim, A.L., said when she met with Mahony in 2006, his eyes filled with tears. I saw a human side to this person, she said, and I can forgive and let it go.
Mary, another victim, said she told Mahony that she could not remain in the Catholic Church after what happened to her. She says Mahony told her, The Catholic Church is not the only church, a response that Mary said surprised her.