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Massive PR machine?
California Catholic Daily ^ | July 31, 2007

Posted on 07/31/2007 4:32:45 AM PDT by monomaniac

Massive PR machine?

Some say Cardinal Mahony’s 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 cardinal’s] 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.”

What harm?

“Oftentimes people think they’ll get a very sympathetic, compassionate response, and sometimes they don’t,” Survivors’ Network spokesman David Clohessy told California Catholic Daily. “Or sometimes they’ll expect that a bishop will be more forthcoming, especially, for example, “where there’s no dispute about the veracity of their claim. And yet they still walk away, feeling disappointed and hurt that they haven’t sort of gotten more.”

However, Clohessy said, “I don’t think we’ve ever said, ‘you shouldn’t do it.’ It’s every survivor’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t get it and now they do, that’s certainly a better impression to have of one’s bishop rather than to think that he’s cold-hearted or self-serving.”

The Times said while some victims have found meetings with Mahony beneficial, others haven’t. 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 Gauer’s 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 ain’t 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.



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: abusivepriests; cardinalmahony; cardinalrogermahony; catholic; homosexualagenda; homosexuality; homosexualpriests; mahony; pedophilia; rogermahony; sexualabuse

1 posted on 07/31/2007 4:32:46 AM PDT by monomaniac
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