One thought on “You read it here first …

  1. The Church of Rome works in mysterious ways, and this is one of those times when we probably have to read between the lines to figure out what happened.

    I don’t think Bp. Gomez changed his mind. Rather, I strongly suspect it was “changed for him.”

    There really isn’t a precedent for a bishop to do what Gomez did, particularly when the person he did it to is a Cardinal.

    True, a Cardinal should defer to the wishes of a local bishop, but must he? Particularly in his diocese of residence? Perhaps not, in canon law.

    Gomez might be able to say to the person who schedules him and his auxiliaries for confirmations: “Do not schedule His Eminence for any future confirmations.” They would then have to obey and not schedule him. However, Mahony will have access to know where and when confirmations are to be held. I am not sure that if he informs them that he will be there, and concelebrating, that a Cardinal can be refused that.

    An alternative theory is that Mahony got a good canon lawyer, they took it up the chain, and Bp. Gomez was informed “sorry, you really can’t do that.” And then enjoined from even mentioning the matter further, because any further discussion would “give scandal” and would further damage the Cardinal’s good name. In other word’s “it’s a personnel matter.” Which puts Mahony again in the driver’s seat and leaves Gomez with egg on his face and no way to wipe it off.

    In retrospect, Gomez might have been wise to make sure that he could either make his admonition stick by main force, or to get Mahony’s irrevocable written assent, before making any sort of announcement.

    As it stands, the scandal is worse than if Gomez done nothing and let Mahony, like so many bishops emeriti, continue to assist here and there as they were so-inclined (John Cummins of Oakland comes to mind).

    There may be some relief from the Pope, but I wouldn’t count on it. He could arrange for Roger to be called “home,” to Rome, as Bernard Law was. It is doubtful, though, if Mahony has a valid case in asserting is rights as a Cardinal, that even the Pope could compel him not to minister in LA without serious due process, and still follow canon law.

    Another thing to consider; while we are outraged, a good portion of Mahony’s former “flock” is not. In the Latino community, he’s nearly a saint because of his commitment to social justice for Latinos. Had Gomez’ name been “Smith” or even “Cordilione,” he might not even have dared to do as much as he has tried to do. Taking Roger Mahony down hard might seriously compromise Gomez with what is at once the most numerous and the most threatened (from non-Denominational Christian sects) segment of his flock.

    It’s complicated.

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