Cardinal removed from public duties by his successor

Cardinal Roger Mahony: shielded priests

Cardinal Roger Mahony: shielded priests


Cardinal Roger Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of America’s largest Catholic archdiocese, has been removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José Gomez, as the church complies with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.

The documents, released as part of a record $660 million settlement in 2007 with the victims of abuse, are the strongest evidence so far that top officials for years purposely tried to conceal abuse from law enforcement officials.

The files, which go from the 1940s to the present, are the latest in a series of revelations that suggest that the church continued to manoeuvre against law enforcement officials even after the extent of the abuse crisis emerged.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who was the vicar for clergy and one of the cardinal’s deputies and adviser on sexual abuse, also stepped down as Bishop of Santa Barbara.

Blocking investigations

In letters written in the 1980s, then Fr Curry gave suggestions on how to stop the police investigating priests who admitted that they had abused children, like preventing them seeing therapists who would be required to alert the authorities about the abuse.

In a letter on Thursday, Archbishop Gomez wrote that the files were “brutal and painful reading”.

“The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” he said. “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.”

Archbishop Gomez’s move to discipline his predecessor and to accept the resignation of Bishop Curry was unexpected and unusual. It has not been the custom of bishops to use disciplinary measures against one another – or even to issue any public criticism.

Advocates for abuse victims had called for Bishop Curry’s removal last week, and had mixed reactions to the actions taken by Archbishop Gomez.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Bishop Curry’s resignation “a small step in the right direction”. But he said the sanctions against Cardinal Mahony amounted to little more than “hand-slapping” and were “a nearly meaningless gesture.” – New York Times

Paddy Agnew adds: Senior Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi had no comment to make last night in relation to the seemingly unprecedented action taken against Cardinal Mahony, saying the measures were a local matter, relative to the Archbishop’s Los Angeles jurisidiction.

Furthermore, the Vatican spokesman confirmed that Cardinal Mahony will retain his Holy See functions. The current Annuario Pontifico records that Cardinal Mahony serves on the Congregation For Oriental Churches.