Victims call on Pope Francis to excise ‘cancer’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Church has an opportunity to begin to excise the “cancer” of sex abuse under its new pope, a US victim who just won a $1 million settlement and his lawyer said Thursday.
Michael Duran, who says he was raped repeatedly by a Californian priest in the mid-1980s, urged Pope Francis to defrock Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, one of those who chose the new pontiff, for allegedly covering up abuse.
He is one of four victims who received a combined $10 million from the Catholic archdiocese announced earlier this week, after the papal conclave started but before Wednesday’s historic election of a new pope.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the Catholic Church to make amends to all the victims, and really implement some real procedures and some structure in the hierarchy to protect children worldwide,” he told AFP.
“My faith in the Catholic Church has been destroyed … I hope that our new pope defrocks … Cardinal Mahony for his role in covering up the abuse that I suffered,” he said, while acknowledging: “I don’t have high hopes for that.”
Lawyers announced Tuesday that the Los Angeles Archdiocese had agreed to pay nearly $10 million to four Californian victims including Duran, who was the only one who appeared at a press conference Thursday.
Mahony — who was stripped of his Church duties in January after the release of hundreds of files showing his role in covering up abuse cases — approved the deal earlier this month, before traveling to Rome for the conclave.
Lawyer John Manly, who represented them in the civil case, said Mahony should face a grand jury. “There is a cancer in this Archdiocese. There is a cancer in this institution. It needs to be cut out,” he told reporters.
“This is a worldwide problem. The only reason it’s come to light in the United States with such ferocity is because of our civil justice system. The fact that individuals can file lawsuits.”
Duran, who was about 10 years old when the abuse started, said the papal election was difficult for him to watch. “It’s hard to look at TV right now. Every day is a constant reminder of what happened to me,” he said.
The 40-year-old, a third generation Mexican-American, said the fact that Pope Francis is the first Latin American pontiff could be good for Latinos, including the huge Hispanic community in southern California.
“I think it’s good for them,” he said. “One of the first steps is to protect the children. Many of the victims, including myself, were Latino. So I hope he has a little more sympathy than the previous pope, and is smart about it.”