National Catholic Reporter
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Church in Crisis
Issue Date:  June 20, 2003

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Review board head says some bishops behave like Mafia


A leading layman delegated to investigate the U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to clerical sex abusers said that there are members of the U.S. hierarchy who behave “like La Cosa Nostra,” an Italian term for the Mafia.

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who heads the bishops’ National Review Board, told the Los Angeles Times, “I have seen an underside that I never knew existed. I have not had my faith questioned, but I certainly have concluded that a number of serious officials in my faith have very clay feet. That is disappointing and educational, but it’s a fact.

“To act like La Cosa Nostra and hide and suppress, I think is very unhealthy,” said Keating in the front page article, “and eventually it will all come out. I think there are a number of bishops -- and I put [Los Angeles] Cardinal [Roger] Mahony in that category -- who listen too much to his lawyer and not enough to his heart.”

The Times reported June 12 that Keating said that earlier this year Mahony, who has outspokenly called for the church itself to be open in its sexual abuse response, was a key figure in a move to block church officials from tallying up how many priests nationwide have been implicated in the abuse.

A Los Angeles archdiocesan spokesman said Keating was “a sincere and well-meaning person” and attributed his remarks to “extra zeal.”

National Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2003

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