UPDATE 1:00 p.m.: Victims abused by priests are not satisfied with the actions taken by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles against Cardinal Roger Mahony after the release of files showing his role in trying to protect the church from molestation scandals.
Archbishop Jose Gomez late Thursday announced that his predecessor, Mahony, will no longer have any administrative or public duties.
Standing Friday in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, a regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called that "window dressing."
Joelle Casteix says the move is only symbolic, and Mahony is still a powerful man in Rome and Los Angeles.
Mahony has repeatedly publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children. He retired in 2011.
UPDATE 10:51 a.m.: The following is a sampling of the reaction to the release Thursday evening of thousands of pages of personnel files of priests accused of child molestation, and of Archbishop Jose Gomez's decision to strip Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of his duties:
- Los Angeles archdiocese: The files' release "concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church."
- Archbishop Jose Gomez: "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."
- Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University: "It's quite extraordinary. I don't think anything like this has happened before. It's showing that there are consequences now to mismanaging the sex abuse crisis."
- Terry McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the release of priest files nationally: The reprimand is a "purely symbolic punishment that they hope will satisfy at least some people in the archdiocese. I don't think that many savvy observers of this will be deceived."
- David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP): "Hand-slapping Cardinal Roger Mahony is a nearly meaningless gesture. When he had real power, and abused it horribly, he should have been demoted or disciplined by the church hierarchy, in Rome and in the U.S. But not a single Catholic cleric anywhere had the courage to even denounce him. Shame on them."
Ray Boucher represented the victims in the settlement and shared with KPCC’s Steve Julian his reaction to the release of the files. Listen below:
PREVIOUSLY: The Archdiocese of Los Angeles Thursday released the personnel files of 124 Catholic priests as part of the 2007 clergy abuse legal settlement.
The confidential files provide details on how archdiocesan leaders addressed decades of sex abuse claims against priests. The files were made available online at http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org.
In conjunction with the release of the files, Archbishop Jose Gomez announced that former Archbishop Roger Mahony will “no longer have any administrative or public duties,” and Mahony’s former top adviser on sex-abuse issues, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, has stepped down as regional bishop of Santa Barbara.
Raymond Boucher, attorney for the plaintiffs in the sex abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese, criticized the way the documents were released when reached for contact by KPCC.
"[My clients] are disheartened to know that the Archdiocese again has put its own interest ahead of theirs, and it's a painful thing to deal with for them, feeling as though the agreement was they receive the files and they make them public — namely the people that were victimized," Boucher said.
"I’m surprised that they put them out before they gave the documents to the victims, because that was our agreement," Boucher said. "They gave them, it must have been seconds before they were released, if that."
According to the diocese’s website, 82 of the files contain information on allegations of childhood sexual abuse. The remaining files contain “proffers,” which are summaries compiled in anticipation of litigation.
Despite some last-minute legal jockeying, the diocese agreed to include names in the files. The release came a few hours after L.A. Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias said the files should be released “as soon as possible.” He set a deadline of Feb. 22 and said the names of top church officials — including Cardinal Roger Mahony — must not be blacked out.
A Los Angeles judge had originally ruled that the diocese could redact the name of priests and church leaders from the personnel files, but that decision was later reversed by a different judge. Church lawyers had argued the name of Mahony and his aides be redacted from an estimated 30,000 pages of files. The files released by the church contain roughly 12,000 pages; according to the church, the 30,000 number in media reports was incorrect.
Judge Elias set down the conditions of the release in his order (which can be read below).
Documents released last week indicated Mahony and church attorney Thomas Curry worked to conceal sexual abuse from police in the 1980s. Those files were released in connection with a separate civil case.
One key question attorneys for victims will seek to answer in the files is whether there are more abusive priests than previously thought, and what role, if any, church officials played in covering it up.
A record $660 million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 sex abuse victims set the stage for the release of the files. Nearly 100 priests have been accused of sexually abusing parishioners in the L.A. archdiocese, most of them children.
“The 2013 public release of the files of clergy who were subject of the 2007 global settlement concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church,” according to a diocese statement announcing the release of the files. “In the 2004 Report to the People of God and elsewhere, the archdiocese acknowledged and apologized for failing to treat victims of abuse with compassion, as well as for employing what we now know to be inadequate standards for treatment and supervision of priests who were found to have abused children and young people.”
Gomez, the current Archbishop, issued a statement saying that while the files document abuses that occurred decades ago, “that does not make them less serious.”
“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” he said. "The behavior 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. “We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the church. And we need to continue to support the long and painful process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken.”
When contacted by KPCC, the Archdiocese said they had no further comment.
This story has been updated.