As regular readers know, I've been in a bit miffed lately by the Los Angeles Times' recent coverage, or lack thereof, when it comes to the presence of the giant, complex and newsworthy Catholic flock that is sitting in its own backyard. So it was nice to see the LAT ahead of the game with this story about whether the District Attorney's Office had done enough to pursue criminal charges against pedophile priests and Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was, at best, negligent about the behavior of his priests.
In its eight-year investigation of sexual abuse by clergymen, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's office has found information suggesting possible "criminal culpability" by leaders of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, but lacks enough evidence to bring charges, according to a memorandum released Tuesday.
The document, written by the prosecutor who heads the investigation, William Hodgman, says statutes of limitations make the "prospect of developing any criminal case" against archdiocese officials "more and more remote with each passing day."
As Cooley enters the final week of his campaign to become the Republican nominee for California attorney general, his office provided the memo to The Times in response to questions about how he has handled the archdiocese investigation.
Here the newspaper does something it used to do all the time in the world of mainstream religion-news coverage. It gets ahead on a big story and forces other news organizations to do the follow-up work.
In fact, for a few years there, it seemed the LAT had greater investigatory powers than the District Attorney. Glenn F. Bunting's unraveling of now-defrocked and imprisoned priest Michael Baker is the starkest example.
It's sad that breaking news, especially about the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has become, to an extent, an unusual news product to see in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
It's sad, but in this case I'm going to try not to look this gift horse in the mouth.