Church Militant recently reported that two Catholics — Paul Norris, a layman, and Christopher Sale, a brother of Padre Pio — were kicked out of the Los Angeles cathedral when they attempted to deliver a petition to Abp. José Gómez after Mass. The ejection occurred as soon as the archbishop's security detail heard the subject of the petition: Abp. Gómez's disgraced predecessor, Cdl. Roger Mahony.
The notorious cardinal's name is a forbidden word for Abp. Gómez. On the one hand, Cdl. Mahony pioneered the pro-amnesty, pro-sanctuary policies that have been the first priority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for years. On the other hand, the cardinal's cavalier attitude regarding his scandalous cover-ups — he spent around $1 billion in legal fees and settlements — finally caused the archbishop to bar him from all public duties in 2013.
True to form, the belligerent cardinal defied the order from day one, and eventually Abp. Gómez just moved on. That's why he brusquely brushed off the two Catholic petitioners last week. Their petition, bearing some 7,000 signatures, demands that Cdl. Mahony be condemned by Church leaders, punished by the Vatican and investigated by law enforcement for covering up sexually abusive clergy.
Well, today that's old news, and Abp. Gómez turns a deaf ear. And he's likely to turn a blind eye when still-Cdl. Mahony defies him again and addresses Catholic educators at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress next month.
Like Pope Francis, the archbishop will frown, "I will not say a word about that."
Why is Abp. Gómez silent on the cardinal poster boy of the U.S. abuse and cover-up scandals?
Well, consider: While it might appear that he's playing deaf, dumb and blind, Abp. Gómez is actually toeing a very fine line. He cannot appear to approve the cardinal's massive cover-up, of course, but he cannot actually condemn it, either. While the archdiocese's website contains instructions on how to "report abuse or neglect of minors" and regularly posts updates on its list of "priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors," the site is silent when it comes to reporting prelates in the archdiocese who covered up abuse in the past.
And that's hardly news. After all, the USCCB is silent on that vital issue as well, and for good reason. On June 12, 2002, The Dallas Morning News greeted bishops arriving for the USCCB meeting on child abuse with this news: "Roughly two-thirds of the top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working." And many of today's sitting bishops attended that meeting — including then-Bp. José Gómez.
So how could Abp. Gómez single out Cdl. Mahony when over 100 other prelates had covered up as well? At the Dallas meeting, then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick had engineered a vote to exempt bishops from their own "child protection" charter — it worked. McCarrick was the most powerful prelate in America at the time, and his primacy — and his policy — endured for years.
The Potemkin "Sex Abuse Conference" ending yesterday in Rome was ostensibly prompted by the McCarrick scandal. In fact, Pope Francis is going to bury it, and Abp. Gómez knows it. While the prelates gathered in the Vatican are being stage-managed by the Vatican's Sodomy Syndicate, they have been forbidden even to mention what Aquinas calls "the unnatural sin" (ST II, II, 154.1).
To ask about the connection of homosexuality to abuse is to pose what political philosopher Eric Voegelin calls "the forbidden question." Such denial is a central ingredient in every worldly ideology, and our shepherds have made it an art form.
So after Rome, Abp. Gómez's brushoff of the faithful will be the USCCB's model in approaching sexual abuse and cover-ups. "Policies, programs, protocols, periodic protocols, provisions, codes and norms" will abound. Transparency, accountability and simple justice will not.
And Abp. Gómez will lead the way. Because, as the vice president of the USCCB, he will be the logical successor to the current president, Cdl. Daniel DiNardo, when elections are held this coming November — that is, if he doesn't step outside the party line.
So what can we expect as the focus of the bishops' conference under his direction?
Archbishop Gómez has demonstrated that he has no stomach for going down Cdl. Blase Cupich's "rabbit hole," and a large number of his brother bishops agree with him. The bishops' version of Washington's "gorilla dust" will swirl with pleasant palaver, but justice will not be on the agenda.
No, as the USCCB's first Hispanic president, Abp. Gómez will champion the conference's prime mandate — immigration, amnesty and sanctuary cities. He will pour fuel in the tanks of the swarm of Democratic presidential candidates, from Beto to Bernie, deploring America's "bigotry," "racism" and "nativism" and ignore President Donald Trump's historic pro-life record.
Rome will drift into the distance, and soon — all too soon, alas — it will be back to business as usual at the USCCB.