The relief of Cardinal Mahony of public duties in L.A. by Archbishop Gomez is likely just the beginning of the end for Cardinal Mahony.
As the Deacon's Bench reports via Rocco Palmo, the current steps have little canonical impact and most of Cardinal Mahony's faculties and prerogatives derive directly from Rome.
However, in all likelihood, Archbishop Gomez consulted with Rome in his effort to distance the Diocese from the evil work of these men and that the other Vatican shoe is sure to drop soon. I hope real soon.
All this got me to thinking about Cardinal Mahony's legacy. For those of us who watched it at the time, it is hard not to think of Cardinal Mahony without also thinking of the legacy of Mother Angelica. Their two competing visions of the Church came to a head in the late 90's and for a while it was quite unclear which vision would prevail. Ultimately, it is too soon to say which vision will prevail, but perhaps it is not too soon to ponder their legacies.
Cardinal Mahony, whose dereliction of spiritual and human duty, led Archbishop Gomez to say “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”
We wait to see the actions of Rome, but it seems clear that Cardinal Mahony's most lasting legacy will be one of failure, evil, and damage. Failure of his priestly and episcopal duty, the evil allowed to fester and then covered up, the damage to innocent individuals, damage to the diocese both spiritually and financially, and the damage done to the Church as a whole. We are all damaged by what occurred there.
Back in the 90's, presumably at the same time that so much of this evil was occurring and being covered up, Cardinal Mahony brought the full force of his position against Mother Angelica for her criticism of his writing. Thus began a process that ultimately led Mother to let go of her creation, her legacy, in order to protect it from the Cardinal Mahony's of the world. But she did and the network she founded, although not without trial and tribulation, continues to do tremendous good in the world. Mother's legacy will be one of the call to truth, holiness, and conversion throughout the country and the world.
As the good book says, "By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"