Leading U.S. Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony was attacked on the street by a man enraged by the Church's sex abuse scandal just days after his Los Angeles diocese agreed to make a record payout to more than 500 victims, a Los Angeles newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Mahony, 71, spoke of the July attack at a recent conference of priests and said it gave him a deeper understanding of the suffering endured by victims of the nationwide scandal.
Father Sal Pilato, principal of Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Los Angeles who heard Mahony speak at the conference, said the cardinal was dropping off letters at a mailbox near the downtown Los Angeles cathedral where he lives.
"Somebody recognized him and attacked him. It was shocking because it was an act of violence and it was someone we know and respect," Pilato told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Mahony told the priests that the man began shouting expletives and knocked him to the ground. It took a month for his injuries to heal after the attack.
It was not known whether the man was himself the victim of sexual molestation by a priest and Mahony did not report the assault to police. Mahony's office declined to comment.
Pilato told the Daily News Mahony spoke of the assault with fellow priests in October during a discussion on the abuse issue. The scandal, involving sexual assaults by trusted priests on young Catholics and subsequent cover-ups, erupted in Boston in 2002 and has affected virtually every diocese in the United States.
"The main message was that his wounds healed within a month, bruises and all, but the victims of child abuse are still suffering after many years, that their wounds are far deeper than what he experienced," Pilato said.
The New York Times has a little more info.
“He went down there to drop something off at the mailbox when this guy approached him, saying some stuff,” said Father Gutierrez, pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church in Santa Monica. “Then, boom, the guy was on him.”It shouldn't have happened. No one should get assaulted, but this story sounds fishy. I have many questions about this, but my primary one is: How did this help Mahony understand the the victims of sexual abuse?
No report about the assault was filed with the Los Angeles Police Department, a police spokesman said. “We don’t know if the assault did or did not happen,” said the spokesman, Sgt. Lee Sands, who said Tuesday that he was trying to get in touch with Cardinal Mahony.
The cardinal could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Carolina Guevara, said, “The annual pastoral meeting with the priests of the archdiocese is a private meeting, and whatever conversation that might have taken place was between the priests and their bishop and was not meant to be public.”
Priests at the meeting reported that Cardinal Mahoney said it had taken him a month to heal from the assault. “The cardinal is fine,” Ms. Guevara said when asked about his condition.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said that “violence against anyone is abhorrent,” but that “there are citizens who feel anger about the way Cardinal Mahony has handled this case for years and years.”
“If he was assaulted,” Mr. Clohessy said. “I feel for him.”