Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times addressed a "welcome letter" to the incoming Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez [at right], in a April 7 column which focused almost entirely in forwarding the mainstream media's talking points on the Church sex abuse scandal, and stereotyped the religious community that the bishop is a member of.
Lopez wasted little time in delving into the scandal. After his greeting and expressing how he was going to miss outgoing archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, despite how his archdiocese "agreed in 2007 to pay $660 million to 500 victims going back decades" and how "there's still a federal grand jury investigation into the handling of the sex abuse scandal," he immediately expressed his concern over who sent Archbishop Gomez to Los Angeles: "I worry a little that it was Pope Benedict XVI who sent you here, since his handling of molesters has recently been called into question." Who else would have sent him there, Mr. Lopez?
The columnist took a brief aside to say, "I love the fact that a region with a vast Latino population has a church leader born in Mexico," but then went further and offered a half-serious "quiz" of sorts to Archbishop Gomez on how he would handle any abuse allegations after he takes over the archdiocese:
1. If a priest told you he'd molested altar boys, would you: A) Fire the altar boys. B) Call your PR agency. C) Send the priest for counseling and then return him to the ministry. D) Call the police.
2. If law enforcement officials asked you for records of priest molestation cases, would you: A) Tell them the dog ate them. B) Tell them you don't speak English. C) Hide the most damaging ones and argue they're confidential. D) Tell them you'll cooperate fully.
There's no rush completing the quiz. Thursday or Friday would be fine.
Lopez continued his condescension towards the incoming archbishop: "The answers are perfectly obvious to lay people. But given your place in church hierarchy, I recognize you may have a handicap, so let me give you a couple of clues: The good Christian thing to do is to protect children before the church, and it's always best to tell the truth up front. Anything else, and you're asking for trouble."
The L.A. Times columnist then turned to Gomez's membership in Opus Dei, a worldwide community of Catholics who are most renowned for the false portrayal in Dan Brown's novel Da Vinci Code, and the practice of corporal mortification, or the offering of a physical sacrifice or discomfort to God, by many members:
By the way, Archbishop, I'd like to hear more about your history with Opus Dei, the conservative element in the church that believes in, among other things, mortification of the flesh.
I'm no theologian, but if self-inflicted pain extends to denial of normal physical urges, couldn't that practice -- and celibacy itself -- be one cause of so much twisted sexuality and abuse over the last several hundred years or so?
As a former "A" student at St. Peter Martyr grade school in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'd love to discuss theology with you.
I mean, it's not like things are going well, with the flock dwindling and many loyal parishioners impatient about resistance to reform on issues from birth control to priestly celibacy.
Lopez revealed what his true objective is in that last sentence. As much space as he devoted to sex abuse, and to the side issue of Opus Dei and its "twisted" practice of mortification of the flesh (endorsed by such extremists as Jesus and St. Paul), his true aim is secularizing the Catholic Church so it just becomes a clone of the Episcopalian Church. If you want a "flock dwindling," then that is where you would turn.