Investigating a cardinal?

One question I still hear asked about the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal is how bishops who left abusive priests in ministry have gotten off more or less unscathed.

The question was most asked about Cardinal Bernard Law, in particular. He resigned under pressure, but has made out reasonably well within the church.

But now the U.S. attorney in LA has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger Mahony, the LA Times is reporting. The investigation is said to be in connection with Mahony’s response to the abuse of minors by priests.

The implications here, one would think, could be great.

Mahony’s lawyer tells the LA Times that there is an investigation underway, but that the cardinal is not a target.

Mahony has been one of the most apologetic bishops in the U.S. But he’s had a lot to apologize for:

Two years ago, the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. The payout was the largest settlement in a scandal that has involved an estimated 5,000 priests nationwide and cost the Roman Catholic Church more than $2 billion to resolve cases in this country alone.

David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, not surprisingly is quite supportive of the investigation: “It is long, long overdue. It is just crucial that the hierarchy face criminal charges, because almost every other conceivable means have been tried to bring reform.”