US archbishop releases abuse records, raps cardinal

AFP, LOS ANGELES

Sat, Feb 02, 2013 - Page 7

The archbishop of Los Angeles stripped his predecessor of all church duties on 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,” he added.

However, 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 Web site, listed by priests’ names, including 82 containing information on allegations of childhood sexual abuse.

The files, containing roughly 12,000 pages of letters, memos and other documents, are viewable at http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org/listing.html.

The archdiocese reached a US$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.

In his letter accompanying the newly released documents, Gomez said that Mahony has expressed regret for failing to protect youths in his care.

However, 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.”