Los Angeles Catholic archdiocese releases priest abuse files

Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:53pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after years of legal battles, released files on Thursday of priests accused of molesting children and removed a top clergyman who had been linked to efforts to conceal the abuse.

Archbishop Jose Gomez said he had stripped his predecessor, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, of all public and administrative duties. Mahony's former top aide, Thomas Curry, stepped down as bishop of Santa Barbara.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil," Gomez said in a statement released by the nation'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.

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, 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 U.S. But not a single Catholic cleric anywhere had the courage to even denounce him. Shame on them," he said.

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 molestation from law enforcement as late as 1987.   Continued...