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Cardinal is relieved of public duties for past failure to protect children

By on Friday, 1 February 2013

Cardinal Roger Mahony (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Cardinal Roger Mahony (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Cardinal Roger Mahony will “no longer have any administrative or public duties” as retired Archbishop of Los Angeles because of past failures to protect children from clerical sex abuse, Archbishop José Gomez has said.

Archbishop Gomez, Cardinal Mahony’s successor as Archbishop of Los Angeles, made the statement on the same day the archdiocese published the files of clergy who were the subject of a 2007 global abuse settlement. The material has been posted on a website, along with supporting information that includes the names of senior Church figures.

Archbishop Gomez also accepted Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry’s request to be relieved of his responsibility as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara.

Cardinal Mahony, now 76, led the archdiocese from 1985 until his March 2011 retirement. Bishop Curry, 70, was the archdiocese’s vicar of clergy and chief adviser on sexual abuse cases in the mid-1980s.

“These files document abuses that happened decades ago,” Archbishop Gomez said. “But that does not make them less serious. I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behaviour described in these files is terribly sad and evil.

“There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed. We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today,” he said.

Some of files show archdiocesan officials worked to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement authorities in the 1980s. Memos exchanged in 1986 and 1987 by the cardinal and the bishop reveal proposals to keep police from investigating three priests who had admitted to Church officials that they molested young boys.

“Sad and shameful as the past history of sexual abuse is,” an archdiocesan statement said, “the Archdiocese of Los Angeles can point to more than a decade of modern child protection efforts that are among the most effective in the nation at preventing abuse and dealing with allegations of abuse.”

Archbishop Gomez in his statement noted that Cardinal Mahony “has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care” and Bishop Curry “has also publicly apologised for his decisions while serving as vicar for clergy”.

“Effective immediately,” he continued, “I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties” and accepted Bishop Curry’s request to be relieved of his responsibility as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara.

Archbishop Gomez said that “reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience I’ve had since becoming your archbishop in 2011.”

“To every victim of child sexual abuse by a member of our Church: I want to help you in your healing. I am profoundly sorry for these sins against you,” he said. “To every Catholic in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I want you to know: We will continue, as we have for many years now, to immediately report every credible allegation of abuse to law enforcement authorities and to remove those credibly accused from ministry.

“We will continue to work, every day, to make sure that our children are safe and loved and cared for in our parishes, schools and in every ministry in the archdiocese,” he said.

The 2007 settlement for $600 million covered more than 500 people who made claims about being sexually abuse by priests and other church personnel. Some of the priests who had claims against them sued to keep their names from being released, saying it violated their privacy rights.

A Superior Court judge ruled in early January that the names of personnel identified in the files could be made public, overturning an earlier decision by a retired federal judge who was acting as a mediator in a settlement between the archdiocese and victims who said they had been abused.

Church officials in Los Angeles had fought for years to keep the files private.

The documents show that Bishop Curry suggested to Cardinal Mahony that they prevent the priests from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that the priests be given out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators.

Cardinal Mahony said last month that he prays for victims of abuse by priests daily as he celebrates Mass in his private chapel.

“It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life journey continues forward with ever greater healing,” he said in a statement, explaining that on his altar he keeps cards with the names of each of the 90 victims he met with from 2006 to 2008.

“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,” the cardinal said. “I am sorry.”

Archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said that while he has been relieved of administrative and public duties, Cardinal Mahony will continue to say Mass in the parish where he lives.

The cardinal sits on three Vatican offices: the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See. He would normally keep those positions until the retirement age of 80.

When asked by Catholic News Service in Rome if Archbishop Gomez’s action to relieve Cardinal Mahony of administrative duties will affect his role with those offices, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi responded only by stating that the “measure taken by the archbishop naturally regards his archdiocese and not other duties that Cardinal Mahony has received from the pope in the Roman Curia.”

The retired archbishop was named a cardinal in 1991. As a member of the College of Cardinals who is under the age of 80, he is eligible to vote in a conclave.

  • JabbaPapa

    Good !!!

  • scary goat

    Yeah, good…..and bad…..and so so sad.  Tears all round for everybody. 

  • Parent

    Pity similar action wasn’t taken in relation to eminent persons this side of the pond.

  • scary goat

     And a few less eminent ones.

  • Parent

    Pity similar action wasn’t taken against eminent persons this side of the pond.

  • Romulus

    So glad to see this wretched man (whose guilt has long been known) brought low at last.  I wonder what Mother Angelica is thinking.  Praying for him, I should imagine.

  • gregoryvii

    I wonder if he will lose the red hat.

  • JabbaPapa

    I don’t think that’s possible.

  • Nick

    “and so so sad” – I trust that comment refers to the abuse suffered by the children in question and not that the former Archbishop has been forced to relinquish his remaining duties for his part in the cover up?

  • Nick

    Not defending your precious Catholic church now eh JabbaJabba!

  • Nick

    A good argument for getting rid of the lot of them don’t you think?

  • Nick

    Should it be?

  • Annie

    “I wonder if he will lose the red hat.” 

    That’s a good question.  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf writes on his blog, “Given what has happened, I cannot see an alternative to Pope Benedict XVI removing Card. Mahoney from the College of Cardinals.”

    One of Father Z’s bloggers mentions that Louis Billot, a Jesuit Cardinal created by Pope Pius X in 1911, “resigned” from the Cardinalate in 1927 after a major dustup with Pius XI over the issue of Action Francaise (one of whose principal leaders was Charles Maurras).  Never having been made a bishop, Billot died as a simple priest in 1931.  Though his situation was a resignation, strictly speaking, it was commonly understood that Pius XI ordered the resignation. 

  • Scholar

    Nothing much there. He is already Emeritus (retired) in the archdiocese. Doubt he has much admin to do?

  • teigitur

    I think it should, and may well be possible.

  • teigitur

    No-one defends the behaviour of Churchmen like this errant Cardinal. Thats the difference you see.You should never shrink from speaking the truth, even when it hurts.

  • teigitur

    No. Just the bad apples.

  • JabbaPapa

    hmmm, interesting.


  • JabbaPapa

    What — for publicly censuring this man ?

    Why not ? You’re confused.

  • Nick

    Like I said – A good argument for getting rid of the lot of them!

  • Nick

    But you are normally defending the Catholic church and those in it against the indefensible.

  • Nick

    A pity Catholics don’t speak the truth on a few more matters then….

  • teigitur

    Not sure why you are so interested in a Church you loath, of course love and hate are kissing cousins.
     BTW just had an email from my (Lab) MP to say he is opposing the re-definition of marriage. To
    quote him” the vast majority of my mailbag on this subject concur with you” Eeek! A politician who listens to the voters.

  • teigitur

    Lets have a few examples, if thats not too much trouble?

  • scary goat

     There’s a difference between love and truth, and defending your cause with blind loyalty irrespective of the facts Nick.

  • Jonathan

    I’m pretty sure that it’s never good to argue from a few cases to a whole class, whatever the argument.

    I like the notion of individual responsibility – and with it – accountability.

  • scary goat

     You want to get rid of the 96% good ones and all the good work they do because some failed? That sounds logical.

  • Jonathan

    To be fair to JabbaPappa, he doesn’t shrink from criticising those within the Church who act in contradiction to her teachings.  It’s usually (almost always?) the *teachings* of the Church that JabbaPappa is concerned with.

  • scary goat

     You trust correct, Nick.  I feel no sadness that he has been removed from his public duties (and Curry).  Not only was it the right thing to do, but it sends a message that this sort of thing will no longer be tolerated.  I hope a few others are not sleeping easy, wondering if they might be next. I also support legal prosecutions of those who knowingly failed to protect children in their care. Having said that, I will admit to feeling a little sadness for a man who is failed and humiliated.  Yes I would also support him being asked to resign as cardinal.  I’m not in the habit of “dancing on people’s ‘graves’ ” though.  Is that wrong?

  • Vpsmith

    Are you related to old nick, by any chance?

  • Ghengis

    As a former Los Angeles resident I can say Mahoney was your typical 60′s style liberal who erected the monstrously ugly Los Angles “Box”Cathedral and pandered to Hollywood with his nu religion. He should have been fired 20 yeas earlier.

  • Jonathan

    I think I know what you mean, scary goat.  I’m relieved to see Roger Mahoney and Tom Curry censured (although I doubt this is enough yet…) for what they failed to do.

    I still can’t help feeling sorry for them both though.

  • Jeannine

    So what about Mahony’s censoring! The article states it only involves his activities in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles not the Vatican. He can still influence Catholic policy worldwide, which to me is even worse. Mahony needs to be stripped of all administrative duties & then sent to a contemplative monastery where he can do no more damage outside of those walls.

  • scary goat

     Can’t say I’d disagree with that…..about sending him to a monastery I mean…..him and others.

  • Nick

    Given the intolerable views most of them hold, I don’t see how there can be any good ones. Most of the ‘good work’ they do involves denying people the right to full control over their own bodies.

  • Nick

    I would usually agree – but in respect of the Catholic church its usually a case of ‘we’re all in it together’.

    If individual responsibility had anything to do with it, more would speak out against this despicable organisation.

  • Nick

    Who says I’m interested in the church?

    And as I keep telling you, in a civilised society, doing the right thing in respect of minority rights isn’t a minority issue. If it was we would still be in the dark ages on a variety of issues that the majority now accept as right even though they may not have done at the time. BTW latest forecase is that equal marriage will pass on Tuesday with a majority of at least 300 in favour.

  • Nick

    Agreed scary goat, but “defending your cause with blind loyalty irrespective of the facts” is all I’ve ever seen JabbaJabba do.

  • Nick

    Exactly Jonathan – but doesn’t that bring s back to defending the indefensible?

  • Nick

    Well lets start with the rights to equality for Gay people shall we….

    And how about the fact that condoms DO prevent the spread of HIV regardless of what the church tells those in sub saharan Africa.

    And if we want to throw a bit of hypocrisy into the mix there’s the small matter
    that one of the major investments of the Institute for the Works of Religion (aka the Vatican Bank) during John Paul II’s time when Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was in charge was in a company producing Latex Rubber – for use in condoms!!



  • Nick

    No, its not wrong at all scary goat. – What I’m more interested in knowing though is just why this has apparently been so prevalent throughout the Catholic church? An organisation which, given its teachings, you would have thought would be squeeky clean on such matters when actually the exact opposite appears to be true.  

  • Jeannine

    If Bernard Law didn’t lose it neither will Mahony.

  • Sweetjae

    Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral is not monstrous. Regardless of any place whether a shack or castle IF the Holy Eucharist reside there then it’s Heaven on earth. Period.

  • scary goat

     Sweet, I think everybody knows that if the Blessed Sacrament is there it is “Heaven on earth”.  I’m not sure that it’s wrong to criticise a man-made building though.  We have one of those “monstrosities” for a Cathedral in my city too.  No-one likes it.  We go there as needs be, and yes, when you find the Blessed Sacrament you feel the usual sense of peace….it takes a while to find though, and it can be a bit disconcerting not having the Tabernacle on the Altar, nor even on view from the main Cathedral. 

  • Parasum

    That Irish cleric Doctor Oddie was saying, in a very recent  article, had been hard done by. That Brady man. If he had spoken up, rather than keeping quiet, he would really have been sticking his neck out – he would have been in a hell of a lot of hot water. What sort of Church drains its priests of moral courage like that ? 

    He was partly a victim of the Church culture, which is based on: conformism, not rocking the boat, playing safe, not contradicting one’s superiors even when they are wrong, keeping one’s head down & one’s mouth shut. If that is the price of order in the Church, it is not worth paying; it’s not a Christian outlook, though it may well be Roman. Fortunately, the Prophets, Christ, & His Apostles did not think like that – otherwise we would be in even deeper trouble than we are. Thank goodness people are no longer as easily over-awed as they are. 

  • Parasum

    “I like the notion of individual responsibility – and with it – accountability.”

    ## In the CC ? That would be nice. Especially at the top. It’s not going to happen. Which is one reason there is going to be a replay of the scandals of the last few years. A bad system that is not reformed is not going to produce good results – that would be magic.

  • Parasum

    It may well be hideous – it would be amazing if it were not. But it cannot compare with the Brutalist ugliness of some of the nu rubbish in Rome. Only a Brutalist Church could think of beatifying Antonio Gaudi.  Rather than “NuChurch”, I propose “DalekChurch”, or “OrcChurch”.

    The A-Bomb Resurrection (perpetrator: Pericle Fazzini) is below:


    No sane human being could confuse this revoltingness with Christian art. It’s like something from “Alien: Resurrection”. Maybe those men in the photo are pod people. That would explain a lot about NuChurch.

    Outside Edinburgh Cathedral is this elevating eyesore: 

    http://www.edinburghseasons.com/2009-06-24/the-manuscript-of-monte-cassino-the-big-foot/ [one of three]

  • Parasum

     Instead of getting away all but scot-free (or entirely so), these people should be degraded from the priesthood, in public, and be excommunicated as well. They deserve nothing less – and that would prove, not before time, that the high-ranking criminals are as liable to punishment as mere laity or priests.

  • JabbaPapa

    Correct — and Nick’s suggestion that I might “defend” paedophiles or any who have **deliberately and willfully** colluded in hiding their crimes from society is characteristically biased and hateful.

  • JabbaPapa

    He can still influence Catholic policy worldwide

    You’re kidding, right ???

    A Cardinal has been publicly censured by an Archbishop — and this doesn’t tell you anything ?

    Any influence that this man has ever wielded is at an end ; beyond his hope for Christian Charity from his friends, family, and ex-colleagues, and the very superficial honours that are due to his station rather than him personally.