In the wake of the release of
confidential documents showing how leaders of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles conspired
to keep priests who sexually abused children out of jail, Cardinal Roger Mahonyarchbishop
emeritus of Los Angeleshas apologized for his role in “the archdiocese’s long
struggle with the sexual abuse of minors.” Mahony claims he was “naïve” about
the impact of abuse upon the priests’ young victims.
That archdiocesan leaders failed to
report to the police priests who admitted abusing children was already known;
Mahony admitted as much in
a 2010 deposition. The documents posted yesterday on the L.A. Times website, which are part of the
on-going civil case against the archdiocese, demonstrate a coordinated effort
on the part of archdiocesan officialsspecifically Cardinal Mahony and his
then-vicar of clergy Thomas J. Curry (now an auxiliary bishop for the
archdiocese)to keep abusive priests away from law enforcement. From the Times report:
newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret,
reveal in church leaders' own words a desire to keep authorities from
discovering that children were being molested.
In the confidential letters, filed this month as
evidence in a civil court case, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police
from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they
abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent them from seeing
therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests
out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators.
such case that has previously received little attention is that of Msgr. Peter
admitted preying for decades on undocumented children
in predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes. After Garcia's
discharge from a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy, Mahony
ordered him to stay away from California "for the foreseeable future"
in order to avoid legal accountability, the files show. "I believe that if
Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very
well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil
archbishop wrote to the treatment center's director in July 1986.
The following year, in a letter to Mahony about
bringing Garcia back to work in the archdiocese, Curry said he was worried that
victims in Los Angeles might see the priest and call police.
response to the release of the documents, Cardinal Mahony issued an
apology, posted in full at the Times’
toward safeguarding all children in the Church began here in 1987 and
progressed year by year as we learned more about those who abused and the
ineffectiveness of so-called “treatments” at the time. Nonetheless, even as we
began to confront the problem, I remained naïve myself about the full and
lasting impact these horrible acts would have on the lives of those who were
abused by men who were supposed to be their spiritual guides.
The rest of
Mahony’s statement is about the meetings he has held with victims of clergy
abuse, which he describes as “heart-wrenching experiences.”
At times we cried together, we
prayed together, we spent quiet moments in remembrance of their dreadful
experience; at times the victims vented their pent up anger and frustration
against me and the Church.
Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal
apology and took full responsibility for my own failure to protect fully
the children and youth entrusted into my care. I apologized for all of us in
the Church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings
resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the
Church and even the clergy perpetrators than was done to protect our
I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my
small chapel. I pray for them every single day. As I thumb through those cards
I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that
accompanies that life story.
“I am sorry,” Mahony’s statement concludes.