The archbishop of Los Angeles stripped his predecessor of all church duties Thursday as he released files on more than 100 clerics, as required under a 2007 lawsuit deal over alleged sex abuse.
Archbishop Jose Gomez said retired Cardinal Roger Mahony will “no longer have any administrative or public duties,” while Mahony’s former top adviser on sex-abuse issues, Thomas Curry, has stepped down as a regional bishop.
“These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious,” he wrote, releasing the personnel files online after prolonged wrangling over whether the names should be blanked out.
“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,” Gomez added. “We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a victims group, dismissed Curry’s resignation as a “small, belated step in the right direction” and said “hand-slapping Mahony is a nearly meaningless gesture.”
“The lesson here for Catholic staff is clear: if you successfully conceal your wrongdoing, you can keep your job. If, however, you fail, there’s an extraordinarily slim chance you might experience some slight consequences,” SNAP director David Clohessy said in a statement.
In all, 124 files were released on the LA archdiocese’s website, listed by priests’ names, including 82 containing information on allegations of childhood sexual abuse.
In one, an alleged victim lashes out at Mahony’s suggestion that he seek comfort from the church.
“You expect me to go and receive the sacrament of reconciliation and then that of Holy Communion at the hands of a priest??” the letter asked.
“I am sure I wasn’t the only SOB he molested. I could’ve sued, I could’ve told my parents, I could’ve??? Instead, I did what I was told to do… ‘Leave it to God’ and lived with the pain, in silence.”
The files, containing roughly 12,000 pages of letters, memos and other documents, are viewable at //clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org/listing.html.
The archdiocese reached a $660 million settlement with about 500 alleged victims in 2007. As part of that deal, the archdiocese agreed to release the personnel files of clergy accused of abuse.
An LA judge had originally ruled that the archdiocese could redact the names of priests and church leaders, but that decision was later reversed.
Some files were released last week, showing evidence of Mahony and Curry discussing how to prevent law enforcement from learning about alleged child molestations over a decade before they became public knowledge.
The files were published online just hours after LA Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias gave a February 22 deadline for the documents to be released.
In his letter accompanying the newly-released documents, Gomez noted that Mahony has expressed regret for failing to protect youths in his care.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
But Esther Hatfield, leader of SNAP’s Los Angeles chapter, dismissed the move as a “media gambit,” saying church officials, including Gomez, “have relentlessly and expensively and successfully fought for years to keep these horrific secrets secret.”