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Paul Kiesel
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Cardinal Mahony Testifies in Fresno Clergy Abuse Case

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From The Associated Press:

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is on the witness stand testifying in the case of two brothers who claim they were molested years ago by a priest at a San Joaquin Valley church.

Mahony was a high-level administrator in the Fresno diocese during some of the years George and Howard Santillan claim they were molested by Monsignor Anthony Herdegen at a church in Wasco, a small town north of Bakersfield.

The brothers filed their lawsuit in 2003 under a one-year window that voided the statute of limitations on old abuse claims in California.

Mahony is now head of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese. This marks only the second time he will take the witness stand to answer questions before jurors about alleged molestation by priests.

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"This is extremely rare…"

The brothers’ lawsuit had originally been thrown out by a trial judge but was revived last May by state appellate judges, who took a close look on Mahony’s own words during a deposition. Mahony had indicated in that deposition that higher-ups in the Fresno Diocese were aware of the abuse that took place, but did nothing to neither stop it nor prevent it from occurring again.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a website devoted to the documentation of clergy abuse and the preservation of church records, said, "This is extremely rare [. . .] Mahony is by far the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to testify at a civil trial."

Cardinal Mahony is a paradoxical public figure. Many people in the Los Angeles-area see him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a malevolent force behind the clergy abuse scandals who tried painting himself and the pedophiles in the Los Angeles and surrounding Dioceses as victims of a larger, societal problem.

The Cardinal’s Other Problems

The Cardinal is currently under investigation by the FBI. The probe is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and other church leaders, committed fraud by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children.

The Cardinal has also been doing his best to prevent an Iraqi War Veteran, who says he was sexually abused by a priest in his L.A.-area Catholic high school at the age of 16, from having his day in court.

On top of all of this, the Pope came out today and said that condoms are not the answer to preventing the transmission of HIV. Whether condoms are the complete or partial answer is a futile argument. To discourage the use of condoms, particularly while on your first pilgrimage to Africa, a continent that is facing an AIDS epidemic, is flat out stupid.

If this is the best the Catholic Church has to offer, I’m unimpressed.