Friday, February 1, 2013

Cardinal Mahony 'stripped of duties' over sex abuse

Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrates Mass in Los Angeles, file pic from 2010(BBC) A retired Los Angeles cardinal accused of mismanaging a child sex abuse crisis has been stripped of all administrative and public duties by his successor.

Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, 76, has apologised for his "failure", Archbishop Jose Gomez said on Thursday.

The Los Angeles archdiocese, the largest in the US, has released thousands of pages of files on priests accused of child molestation.

Cardinal Mahony retired in 2011, having run the archdiocese for 25 years.

In 2007 Los Angeles paid $660m (£415m) to alleged victims of abuse, the largest sex abuse payout on record.

Cardinal Mahony has publicly apologised for mistakes he made handling the clerical sex abuse issue.

'They failed'
"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," Archbishop Gomez said in a statement. "The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil.

"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 added that Bishop Thomas Curry, former vicar of the clergy who handled the cases of accused priests, had stepped down from his post as bishop of Santa Barbara.

The 12,000 pages of documents were released after Church records on 14 priests were unsealed as part of a civil case.

They showed both Bishop Curry and Cardinal Mahony had helped to shield accused priests from investigation in the 1980s.

A Church expert said the "very unusual" punishment showed how seriously the US Catholic hierarchy was taking the case.

"To tell a cardinal he can't do confirmations, can't do things in public, that's extraordinary," Jesuit scholar the Reverend Thomas Reese, a Georgetown University fellow, told the Los Angeles Times.

But a victims' support group said Cardinal Mahony's reprimand was too little, too late.

"When [Cardinal Mahony] had real power, and abused it horribly, he should have been demoted or disciplined by the Church hierarchy, in Rome and in the US," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

"But not a single Catholic cleric anywhere had the courage to even denounce him. Shame on them."

The Catholic Church in the US has been embroiled in a series of child sex scandals over the past two decades.

A Church-commissioned report said more than 4,000 US priests had faced sexual abuse allegations since the early 1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children - mostly boys.


Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Los Angeles January 31, 2013

My brothers and sisters in Christ, This week we are releasing the files of priests who sexually abused children while they were serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious.

I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. 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.

We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today. We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the Church. And we need to continue to support the long and painful process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken.

I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages. Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience I’ve had since becoming your Archbishop in 2011.

My predecessor, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care. Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry has also publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as Vicar for Clergy. I have accepted his request to be relieved of his responsibility as the Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara.

To every victim of child sexual abuse by a member of our Church: I want to help you in your healing. I am profoundly sorry for these sins against you.

To every Catholic in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I want you to know: We will continue, as we have for many years now, to immediately report every credible allegation of abuse to law enforcement authorities and to remove those credibly accused from ministry. We will continue to work, every day, to make sure that our children are safe and loved and cared for in our parishes, schools and in every ministry in the Archdiocese.

In the weeks ahead, I will address all of these matters in greater detail. Today is a time for prayer and reflection and deep compassion for the victims of child sexual abuse.

I entrust all of us and our children and families to the tender care and protection of our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Angels.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles


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