This week, the story from LA has concerned apparent differences between what Cardinal Mahony told the people of the Archdiocese and what he told the Vatican about an abusing priest. (At least he told the truth to the Vatican, which was working on laicizing the priest - but why lie to the people? That's odd.) The LATimes unpacked it, the Archdiocese responded - but in doing so very blatantly shifted the discussion, ignoring the point. Sort of impressive that they think we're so stupid not to notice. Anyway, the best summary (with links) is from Professor Bainbridge (a law prof, btw), who draws his own conclusions about what the consequences should be:
Canon 387 of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church states that:
Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ's faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ's faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may know and live the paschal mystery.
Can a Bishop who has lied to his flock on such a key matter be said to be in compliance with Canon 387? No. Especially given Mahony's long track record of other misfeasances and malfeasances in connection with the priest sex abuse scandal.
Curiously, there is no express provision in the Canon Law for removal of a diocesan Bishop. Canon 401, § 2, however, states that:
A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.
Mahony's violation of Canon 387 constitutes the requisite "grave reason" such that he should voluntarily resign. If he fails to do so, the Pope clearly has authority under Canon 403 to appoint a coadjutor bishop who would be vested with the bulk of Mahony's responsibilities. Alternatively, despite the absence of a clear answer in canon law, most observers believe that the Pope has authority to remove a bishop for sufficiently grave reason. (Certainly, at the bare minimum, the Pope can "lean on" a bishop to do the right thing.)