As we've noted several times before, Los Angeles Times Opinion Editor Tim Rutten hardly misses an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church. So imagine my shock and amazement when I picked up his Saturday column (1/30/09). Rutten rips a reported federal grand jury investigation of L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony's handling of the abuse scandal as "frivolous" and "overreaching." (For the record, the archdiocese's attorney has said that he was told that Mahony is not a target of an inquiry.)
Did a wave of clarity and sanity suddenly overcome Rutten? Rather than bellowing the hysterical falsehoods that have often been aired in the Times and in the media in recent years, Rutten's must-read piece wipes away a number of myths. Rutten proclaims a number of very notable and important facts about the Church abuse narrative in Los Angeles:
"[E]very cleric who can be criminally prosecuted already has been by the [L.A.] county's district attorney."
"Mahony has imposed a zero-tolerance policy on abuse so stringent that it's regarded as a model for institutions that care for the young."
"So far, the grand jury has subpoenaed records on 22 former priests, two of whom are dead, according to sources at the U.S. attorney's office. All of the relevant information on their cases has been in the hands of county prosecutors for years."
And most notably, for those who say attorneys are "afraid" to prosecute Church officials out of fear that they'd be damaged politically:
"The legal acrimony between the D.A.'s office and the archdiocese over all this has been corrosive enough to eat through titanium alloy. If any sort of criminal obstruction had occurred, does anybody really think L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley wouldn't have prosecuted?"
To Tim Rutten: Nice job ... but an honest, level-headed assessment of the Los Angeles Catholic Church abuse scandal from the Times has been loooong overdue.