PRESS RELEASE: Catholics, Abuse Victims Deliver Petition to Cardinal’s North Hollywood Residence

Posted February 25, 2013

Catholics United to church leaders: hear the cries of your flock

LOS ANGELES – Joined by allies from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Catholics United today delivered a lay-led petition of 10,000 signatures to the North Hollywood parish residence of Cardinal Roger Mahony, asking that he recuse himself from the upcoming papal conclave to find a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI.

Chris Pumpelly, Catholics United’s communications director, was joined by Joelle Casteix of SNAP and Andrea León-Grossmann, CU’s Los Angeles lay leader, in giving statements to the media before delivering the petition to church staff at St. Charles Borromeo.

Cardinal Mahony was not on site for the delivery, and is believed to have already departed for Rome. He was deposed for nearly four hours this morning by attorney Anthony De Marco for his part in an alleged cover-up of child sex abuse that occurred under his watch as leader of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

“[Mahony’s] participation in the conclave would only bring clouds of shame in a time that should bring springs of hope,” Pumpelly said, reading from a prepared statement. “Cardinal Mahony, please, stay home from the papal conclave and help bring healing to your people.”

Pumpelly went on, emphasizing the scope of scandals like this are not limited to Mahony or Los Angeles, and all cardinals responsible should recuse themselves as well.

“There are bishops and cardinals around the world who have skirted justice,” he said “They have enjoyed privilege and deference while victims are silenced and maligned. Let today be a clear message: No more.”

Casteix, a survivor herself, spoke of the pain of being marginalized during years of abuse, and that though actions like today can bring healing, the work is not finished.

“While the conclave may be an ending point for some, survivors will continue to battle on,” she said.

Representatives from Catholics United and SNAP will be outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles tomorrow morning during Masses to seek additional signees for the petition. Those interested in signing may still do so at www.catholics-united.org.

FROM THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Joelle Casteix, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), holds a picture of herself from high school and tells of being sexually abused by a priest while in high school. Catholics United joined by representatives from SNAP delivered a petition to St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood, Saturday, February 23, 2013 asking Cardinal Roger Mahony to recuse himself from the upcoming papal conclave in Rome. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved from: http://photos.dailynews.com/2013/02/photos-catholics-united-petition-cardinal-mahony/#namehere)

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Below is the full text of the statement made Saturday by Catholics United Communications Director Chris Pumpelly before delivering the petition to staff at St. Charles Borromeo Church:
“I am in Los Angeles today with a simple message from our members across the country: We love the Church. But we can’t stand the crisis of leadership that has afflicted the faithful for far too long. What I deliver today is a message of pain from thousands of Catholics: Cardinals, bishops and leaders of the Church, listen to the cries of your flock. Respect the victims of abuse and cover-up. Don’t run from it. Your scandal brings pain to the faithful.

“Specifically, we ask Cardinal Roger Mahony to consider all of this in his heart. Our Church has been rocked by this situation. His participation in the conclave would only bring clouds of shame in a time that should bring springs of hope. Cardinal Mahony, please, stay home from the papal conclave and help bring healing to your people.

“This situation with Cardinal Mahony, while tragic and shameful, is not unique to Los Angeles. Indeed, there are cardinals around the world planning to attend the conclave who have similar scandal on their conscience. I ask them, and any church leader who has ears to hear it, please, do the right thing. Do the just thing by your people.

“There are bishops and cardinals around the world who have skirted justice. They have enjoyed privilege and deference while victims are silenced and maligned. Let today be a clear message: No more. Catholics and people of faith are demanding accountability from our leaders, and the people of the Church will prevail for the good.

“To the men of good will attending the conclave: this time presents an opportunity for radical renewal in the Church. Millions of Catholics are leaving the faith, because of this crisis. But this crisis of leadership can be healed. Catholics United throughout the world implore you to choose a pope who will refocus the Church on the teachings of Jesus and serving the least among us. We’ve been told, by some in power, that the biggest threats to our faith are things like gay marriage and women’s access to birth control. As you can see today, Catholics know that’s simply not true.

“We need a man of God who will refocus our Church back to its mission of bringing good news to the poor. Our next pope must fight to help heal to a broken world. He must fight to restore trust in his flock. We pray our cardinals have the wisdom to bring our Church in a new era of justice, hope and peace.”

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Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.

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