The Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles has stripped a retired cardinal of his duties for mishandling allegations of sexual abuse during his 27-year tenure.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, now retired, has been relieved of any public or administrative responsibilities after the diocese was ordered to release almost 12,000 pages of church documents revealing how it mishandled allegations of abuse.
Nearly 200 priests and bishops were named in the files, which go all the back to the 1930s:
The documents were evidence in 508 civil cases by sex abuse victims that were settled in one stroke in 2007. Victims received $660 million in the landmark judgment.
Most of the documents were inner-church correspondences about accused clergy. The archdiocese fought to purge the names of the accused from the papers until Thursday, when Judge Emilie Elias ruled that they be made public by February 22.
The church published them [on its website] shortly after the ruling. There are 124 personnel files in total, 82 of which reveal sex abuse allegations against minors.
In some cases, the offenders were arrested, but in others they were sent to other diocese or otherwise sheltered from prosecution.
Current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who sanctioned Mahony, called the files “brutal and painful reading.” But in a blogpost on Friday, Mahony, who served from 1984 to 2011, defended his action—and passed the buck to Gomez:
“Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors. I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s.
I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.
Mahony’s censure is something, but victims say it’s not nearly enough: “To say to a retired employee that ‘we’re going to give you fewer roles,’ it’s a symbolic gesture and a pretty hollow one at that,” David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told CNN. “He should have been demoted or disciplined by the church hierarchy, in Rome and in the U.S.”
Instead, Mahony, 77, is simply “reducing his public profile,” to use the words of church spokesman Tod Tamberg. “He remains a priest in good standing, and a cardinal of the church.”
Imagine what would have happened to Mahony if he had done something truly despicable, like publicly denounced California’s Proposition 8.