The cardinal of Los Angeles has no right to criticize efforts to enact tough new anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, the architect of the plan said Wednesday. "He's not a guy to be calling names,'' said Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. Pearce said Roger Mahony has plenty to answer for in his own back yard, including the cardinal's role in protecting child molesters.
The cardinal of Los Angeles has no right to criticize efforts to enact tough new anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, the architect of the plan said Wednesday.
"He's not a guy to be calling names,'' said Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. Pearce said Roger Mahony has plenty to answer for in his own back yard, including the cardinal's role in protecting child molesters.
Mahony began the sharp war of words by posting a blog on his site critical of the legislation which directs police officers, when practicable, to check whether those with whom they come into official contact are in this country legally.
The measure, which has been approved by the Legislature and awaits action by Gov. Jan Brewer, specifically precludes race or ethnicity as being the sole factor for deciding when to question someone. But it does permit either to be used as one factor.
Another section makes it a state crime to not have proper documents to be in this country.
Mahony, in his blog, called the measure "dreadful.''
"I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,'' the cardinal wrote.
"Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers?'' he continued. "Are family members and neighbors now supposed to spy on one another, create total distrust across neighborhoods and communities, and report people because of suspicions based upon appearance?''
Pearce told Capitol Media Services Mahony should tend to his own problems first.
"He's part of a group that have buried and hidden information on predators, moved them around, while kids' lives are destroyed,'' Pearce said. "He has no room to call names.''
The senator said he does not see his comments, first made in an interview with a Philadelphia radio station, as anti-Catholic.
"I think it's factual,'' Pearce said.
"I've seen it in the paper, I've seen the history,'' he continued. "I just think it's rude for him to call names when he lives in a glass house.''
Mahony has been named as a defendant in several lawsuits accusing him of failing to remove priests who he knew or should have known were pedophiles. One lawsuit, filed just this week, accuses Mahony and the head of a Mexican diocese of conspiring to shield a priest from prosecution.
Messages left with the media office of the Los Angeles archdiocese seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Pearce said he has no problem with the cardinal's opposition.
"If he wants to disagree with me, I'm just fine with that,'' he said. But he said throwing around terms like "Nazi'' falls in the same line as comments saying he is a "racist,'' with neither advancing public awareness of the issue.
"If they want to debate, I'm willing to debate,'' Pearce said of foes of the bill. "But don't name call.''