When Sleeping Dogs Bark

Bishop Curry Finds Himself in Hot Seat — Yet Again

Thursday, February 21, 2013
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WHEN PARISHIONERS REVOLT: By the time I arrived on the scene, my parents had run out of gas when it came to middle names. My father wanted Walter; my mother wanted Wagner. Despite the overwhelming similarity between the two, the difference proved insurmountable. Besides, if I really wanted a middle name, they figured I could pick my own when I got confirmed. Confirmation ​— ​one of the seven sacraments ​— ​marks that milestone when young Catholics lucky enough to achieve the onset of puberty are mysteriously said to have reached the Age of Reason. That’s when they reportedly can choose to embrace the faith that hitherto had been foisted upon them. Like all Catholic ceremonies, confirmation is beautiful and moving. Signifying what I’m still not clear, the presiding bishop or priest confers upon his confirmees a faux slap across the face. In any other context, this would suggest that a duel at dawn was imminent. But the coolest thing about confirmation is that the confirmed get to pick a new name. Being a wannabe black back then, I found myself deliberating between Tyrone, Otis, or Jerome. Because only Jerome could be found on the menu of approved saint names, it would have to be Jerome. But there was some glitch, it turned out, and I’d have to wait a year. In that year ​— ​having taken seriously this Age of Reason thing ​— ​I came to the conclusion all religion was bunk. So when I was invited to the next scheduled confirmation, I declined.

Angry Poodle

No middle name. No slap in the face.

I mention this, as usual, because of the child sex-abuse firestorm now engulfing the Catholic Church. A month ago, Santa Barbara’s auxiliary bishop Thomas J. Curry was forced to resign because of his pivotal role in the sex-abuse cover-up scandal. In the 1980s, Curry served as the right-hand man for Los Angeles archbishop Roger Mahony, who would later be promoted to cardinal before his retirement two years ago. As such, it was part of Curry’s job description to deal with priestly pederasts. At the same time Curry stepped down, Mahony was famously rebuked by L.A.’s new Archbishop José Gomez for his failure to protect the children. Even more famously, Gomez relieved Mahony ​— ​who outranks him ​— ​of Mahony’s administrative duties. Up ’til then, Mahony could not have been more abject in his apologies to the abused. But once Gomez joined in ​— ​having “Hollywood Roger’s” shortcomings denounced from the pulpit in every parish at every mass one Sunday ​— ​Mahony changed his tune and issued one protest after the next, via his personal blog site. At that time, most Catholics assumed this meant Mahony and Curry would no longer be allowed to preside over confirmations. In the great scheme of things, that’s not much. But for Catholics looking for some concession, it was huge. So imagine the shock and revulsion that parents at St. Jude, a small but affluent parish in Westlake Village, felt upon receiving written notice that Curry would be presiding over their teenage child’s induction into the Army of Christ, scheduled for May 4. This notice was sent after Curry resigned and about the same time the Archdiocese began releasing ​— ​under court order ​— ​the personnel files of priests accused of molestation.

If and when Curry ever talks, I’m sure there will be a very logical explanation. He is by all accounts an impressive man, both learned and shrewd ​— ​the last survivor of the so-called Irish Mafia, which for decades built and ran the Church in Los Angeles ​— ​and endowed with a quiet disarming grace. But until he does, the files seem very damning. In one instance, it appears Curry all but warned one pedophile priest on loan from Mexico that he was in danger because the police were closing in. When that same priest ​— ​Fr. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera ​— ​told Curry he was thinking of going back to Mexico, Curry did not advise him to stay and face the music; nor did he warn the police that Fr. Nico was about to go on the lam. Later, when police investigators asked for the names of altar boys who may have served with Fr. Nico, Curry and Mahony steadfastly refused to turn them over. Ultimately, the cops would get the names and discover that Fr. Nico was so prolific a predator he practically needed an assembly line.

In the Catholic scheme of things, Curry and Mahony are the shepherds, and the parishioners are the sheep. But at St. Jude, the sheep mutinied and bared their grass-eating fangs. Good lifelong Catholics objected to what they termed “a slap in the face,” and made it clear they did not want Curry doing the same ​— ​however symbolically ​— ​to their kids. They wrote letters, they made phone calls, they emailed, they texted and Twittered, Facebooked and Skyped. While St. Jude is only one parish, it serves as the confirmation hub for students attending 11 high schools. There are 90 kids ​— ​from 90 families ​— ​signed up to be confirmed this May. That’s a lot of Catholics. Curry and Gomez ​— ​independently and in consultation with one another ​— ​came to the conclusion that perhaps Curry had better things to do that day. Like anything. Or maybe even nothing at all. One might wonder how they could have been so astonishingly tone-deaf not to have figured this out on their own. But to even ask that question is to have missed the point of the past 20 years of Church history.

In the meantime, I have learned to live with a festering case of middle-name envy. There are many I would have liked, and typically they run to the ornate and ridiculous, like “Francis Xavier Aloysius” or “Ray Lee Wayne.” On some form I filled out long ago, I marked a big “X” next to the box indicating “no middle initial.” Somehow, this has confounded the record keepers. Now I get letters addressed to Nicholas X. Welsh. It ain’t a middle name. It’s not Walter or Wagner. But still, it’s a start.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

A well connected Catholic man, who's family has been in California before the Mission was built once told me,,, if your not part of the solution, your part of the problem!!! This has been going on with these " men of God " far to long. If this is not Organized Crime,, then what do you call it. Arrest them,, jail them,, and throw away the key!! They are Scum!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2013 at 7:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Amen oldtimer

sbsurfguy (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2013 at 8:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is a movie on Netflix simply called "Luther" by Empire films. It talks about how even in Luther's (1483-1546) time, one of the gripes he had with the church was parties at the Vatican where naked boys jumped out of a cake.

Luther by the way, didn't consider himself a breakaway from the church, but rather a return to orthodoxy.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2013 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Even organized crime (the Mafia comes to mind) wouldn't even think about tolerating the rape of kids.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2013 at 9:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" allowed to resign" what about arrested, where are the police and prosecutors? These men are an organized " gang " raping children. Where is the outrage?

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2013 at 10:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

bill any youth oriented organization has the same problems. boy scouts, public schools, cps, and protestant denominations. you should know better. and luther was a giant prick.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 7:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Redbunz: I am aware of Luther's anti-semitism and other shortcomings, but merely referred to him for historical puposes.

What I find most disturbing is the depth of the cover up in the church. Getting back to Luther, the part about his break with the church was mentioned because it's assumed that the Vatican represents the values of the catholic church and some may feel conflicted about questioning the Holy See, which they assume to speak ex-cathedra. (See, I know a little about what you're discussing)

I would further point out that as long as Mr. Ratzinger stays in the Vatican, he is not subject to persecution and from what I'm hearing he has no plans to return to his native Germany. Take that for what it's worth.

In short, I'm not putting down catholics, but I get a little bugged at watching these high-profile people making excuses for the pediphile behavior, especially when Ratzinger complains about how the American press is blowing the issue out of proportion.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2013 at 8:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with oldtimer and all the above posts. Now "Cardinal" Mahony, who worked hand-in-glove with Curry, will attend the papal conclave in the Vatican TO ELECT A NEW POPE.
How can the Church allow this?? Where's the outrage, indeed, oldtimer. The true Catholics need to step it up and clean their own house. And yes, both Mahony and Curry should be charged with some sort of crime...malfeasance? Inappropriate information given to the police? Something, for God's sake!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 1:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As my ten year old once said: "Thank God we're not religious!"

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now the Pope is resigning due to a " gay scandal in the Vatican " ,, where are the members of this " church,,, they are sheep being led by lies and deception . I wish I was wrong,,, but it's time to expose them,,, Catholics sure won't do it,,, they are brainwashed!!! What kind of God would put up with these criminals!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

and we know many folks filled with spiritual piety, with a strong ethical center, who are compassionate and they aren't "religious", OK, but they cherish humanity and help others.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. All the rest is commentary.
Rabbi Hillel

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That is one witty 10-year old!

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The funniest thing is that she said it in all seriousness.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 3:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey people, just keep following the John and Ken show (which you can google) on KFI 640 am out of L.A. They've been tracking Mahony's behavior for years and they come up with facts, numbers, and dates that are mind-blowing.

I remember the days when Mahony was being spoken of as the next likely pope.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 4:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Welsh: With regard to your self-described middle name envy, cheer up. Harry S. Truman: The "S" had no actual name attached to it but was in honor of his grandfathers one of whom had the name Soloman and the other Shippe.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 4:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, the Catholic Church as a corporate entity is at least as bad as the Mafioso and Chimera(far bigger than the Mafia) from my country.
Stop giving money on Sunday! Those funds, due to the corporate nature of the biz structure of the church do not belong to the parish but instead to the church as a corporation.
Start publicly humiliating morons like Curry and Mahoney; nothing physical of course, but they continue to get respect because they are Priests which makes me crazy.
Start speaking out against anyone in the community that still honors these criminals. As previously commented our own Bishop Diego High School had Curry say Mass to hundreds of k-12 kids after we knew what he had done; where was the public outrage?
This is not a church problem but a citizen problem for still supporting the Church with funding instead of just holding on to our faith and personal belief.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 6:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The Camorra maybe?
While there are good and decent people within the RCC, the organization itself is rotting from within. Recent news accounts suggest that various, soon-to-be disclosed scandals are behind the current Pope's resignation, not his failing health. Sounds plausible, for sure. So much may depend on somehow electing a reform-minded Pope and replacing the current leadership, but the deck seems stacked against that happening. I suspect that the Church, in its present form, will not be around in 50 years.

zappa (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 7:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Chimera is latin for "the monster" loosely translated. It's how we jokingly refer to the cartel that pretty much controls Napoli...Albeit there are three distinct arms they all do the same thing...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ah, ora capisco. A few years ago, I read an interesting book by Roberto Saviano, an Italian journalist, who risked his life investigating the Naples-based crime organizations.

zappa (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think the Latin comes out of the ancient Greek CHIMAIRA which literally means "she-goat" -- but hey, a monster in any case.
I agree Italiansurg that this issue is one for ALL the citizens, not just the church, so I stand corrected. Any big social institutions which are "closed" and one-gender and highly hierarchical and perhaps mossy with old age... likely need periodic cleansing or perhaps "formal assessments" by the State (or, their association), just to have outsiders go in and look around.
The specific issues about Fr. Nico are horrendous, do cause disgust, and Curry and Mahony should be prosecuted by the government. Where's the Nanny State with all its rules on this one??

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 11:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In Greek mythology, the Chimera was an awesome fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. The Chimera was killed by the hero Bellerophon mounted, in most versions of the tale, on Pegasus, the winged horse.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2013 at 3:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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