Catholic Cardinal Stripped of Duties as LA Diocese Child Abuse Files Released
Retired Roger Mahony is said to have shielded priests accused of child abuse in Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles.
1 Feb 2013 – The Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles has removed a top clergyman linked to efforts to conceal abuse as it released thousands on files of priests accused of molesting children.
Archbishop Jose Gomez said he had stripped his predecessor, the retired cardinal Roger Mahony, of all public and administrative duties. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” Gomez said in a statement released by the US’s largest Catholic archdiocese.
“There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed,” he said.
Mahony’s former top aide, Thomas Curry, also stepped down as bishop of Santa Barbara.
The 12,000 pages of files were made public more than a week after church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed as part of a separate civil suit, showing that church officials plotted to conceal the abuse from law enforcement agencies as late as 1987.
The documents showed that Mahony, 76, and Curry, 70, both worked to send priests accused of abuse out of the state to shield them from scrutiny.
A spokesman for a victims’ support group said that the removal of Mahony and Curry was long overdue and a small step after the church spent years fighting to protect them.
“Hand-slapping Mahony is a nearly meaningless gesture,” said David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. “When he had real power, and abused it horribly, he should have been demoted or disciplined by the church hierarchy, in Rome and in the US. But not a single Catholic cleric anywhere had the courage to even denounce him. Shame on them,” he said.
Mahony and Curry also tried to keep priests sent away to a church-run paedophile treatment centre from later revealing their misconduct to private therapists who would be obliged to report the crimes to police, the documents showed.
Patrick Wall, 47, a former priest who is a consultant for plaintiffs and prosecutors in Catholic sex abuse cases, said the documents suggested that Mahony had been trying to avoid a public legal case against one priest.
“The important thing is those kinds of documents have never been produced before,” Wall said.
Los Angeles prosecutors have said they will review and evaluate the documents, this batch of which includes 124 personnel files, 82 of which have information on allegations of sexual abuse, according to the archdiocese.
The Los Angeles archdiocese reached a $660m (£417m) civil settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims of child molestation in the biggest such agreement of its kind in the country. Mahony at the time called the abuse “a terrible sin and crime”.
Victims’ advocates have accused church leaders of continuing to obfuscate their role in the scandal.
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