Cardinal Mahony barred from public duties over sex abuse cases

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has taken the unusual step of relieving his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, from all public duties for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse.

At the same time, Archbishop Gomez complied with a court order by releasing 12,000 pages of documents containing the personnel files of clergy accused of sexual abuse and posting the files online.

He also accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, regional bishop for Santa Barbara, who was at one time Cardinal Mahony’s vicar for clergy and chief advisor on sex abuse cases.

Archbishop Gomez succeeded Cardinal Mahony as archbishop of Los Angeles in 2011.

The documents released showed that Cardinal Mahony, 76, and Bishop Curry, 70, both worked to send priests accused of abuse out of the state to shield them from scrutiny.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Archbishop Gomez said. “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: “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.”

Jesuit Father Tom Reese of Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center and author of several books about the power structure of the Church, said Archbishop Gomez’s steps were extraordinary.

“An archbishop has never before restricted the ministry of his predecessor and publicly taken him to task like this,” he said.

In a response, Cardinal Mahony said “nothing in my own background or education” equipped him to deal with the sexual abuse of children.

He said the advice he was given was “to remove priests from active ministry if there was reasonable suspicion that abuse had occurred, and then refer them to one of the several residential treatment centres across the country for evaluation and recommendation”, and was never told that these procedures were not effective.

He also claimed that under his leadership the archdiocese became “second to none in protecting children and youth”.


Los Angeles Times

Catholic News Service

National Catholic Reporter

Image: Zimbio

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