Then, this afternoon (Thursday), the Times posted a link to a KNX 1070 News Radio interview at http://www.knx1070.com/pages/3744379.php?
in which Cardinal Roger Mahony said he was "mystified and puzzled" about a federal grand jury probe of the Los Angeles Archdiocese over the clergy abuse scandal.
In the radio interview, Cardinal Mahony said he does not know whom the probers are targeting. He said the probers want files on 22 priests, of whom two are dead and 20 are in the lay state and long gone.
In reply to a question by one of the interviewers, Cardinal Mahony said he would appear before the grand jury if he was asked to.
The L.A. Times news story said:
"Authorities are applying a legal theory in an apparently novel way. One federal law enforcement source said prosecutors are seeking to use a federal statute that makes it illegal to 'scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.'"
"In this case, the victims would be parishioners who relied on Mahony and other church leaders to keep their children safe from predatory priests, the source said.
"To gain a conviction on such a charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Mahony used the U.S. mail or some form of electronic communication in committing the alleged fraud, the source said.
"Legal experts said the theory that prosecutors are pursuing is usually reserved for cases against public officials, such as politicians and law enforcement officers, and corporate executives accused of wrongdoing.
"Rebecca Lonergan, a professor of law at USC and a former federal prosecutor, said she was unaware of the law's ever being used to charge a member of the clergy.
"'They would have to show some intentional wrongdoing rather than just after-the-fact cover-up,' she said. "
That federal prosecutors are pursuing "a legal theory in an apparently novel way" and using a law "[n]ever... used to charge a member of the clergy" could suggest that someone in the federal government has a bias against our Catholic Church. Nevertheless, they would have less of an excuse for this probe if it were not, for example, for the mishandling, to put it mildly, of cases such as the Michael Baker case.