Crime & Justice

Revelation about Mahony coverup further angers survivors of priest sex abuse

Former Cardinal Roger Mahony
Former Cardinal Roger Mahony
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While former L.A. Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony tries to address the latest revelations implicating him in coverups of priest sex abuse, angry survivors of abuse say the church still has not suffered enough for its past actions. 

Sixty-five-year-old Tony Carone was abused 56 years ago when he was an altar boy. He sighs deeply as he tries to describe coming forward about a taboo he’d kept silent about for years.

"If you talk about it, a lot of people don’t like you, especially Catholics. He says his wife was "disgusted that I would bring it up."

Things got so bad that Carone separated from his wife two years ago and moved into his parents' house. 
In 2008, Carone received part of the 660 million-dollar settlement from the LA Archdiocese—the largest payout in a sex abuse scandal. Sitting next to him, 70 year-old Udo Strutynski, another abuse survivor, nods when Carone talks about how difficult it was to receive that cash. Strutynski calls the settlement, “blood money”.  He says he eventually left the church, and joined the Southern California chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“They preach a higher standard to us, so you’d think that they should also be subject to the rules of that standard," Strutynski says of the church. He argues that the church has "behaved so badly, it should really be stripped of any benefits that it gets, both legal, and social and otherwise.”
Mahony has apologized before for priest sexual abuse, and for how the Church handled it. The new files detail cover-ups for three priests in the 1980s. Clergy were not legally required to report suspected abuse until 1997. Still, Mahony apologized again in a statement on Monday. He said he had been “naïve about the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have.” Mahony said he has a 3 by 5 card for every victim he’s met, and that he prays for them every day.

Standing outside the modernist cathedral in downtown L.A., SNAP Southern California director, Joelle Casteix says she’s offended by Mahony’s remarks.
“The fact that he would state that he puts victims’ names on 3 by 5 cards and prays for them, is an insulting gesture that trivializes the pain people like me have felt for decades," says Casteix. "The only way that we can have true accountability is when predators and those who aid them are put behind bars.”
Richard Sipe is a former Benedictine priest of 18 years, and a mental health counselor focused on Roman Catholic Priests. He says he’s encouraged by the release of the files. But Sipe says the church has lost its credibility because of the way it handled abuse cases over the years --even though it instituted a lot of reforms aimed at keeping abusive priests at bay.
“The church has done many kinds of things to educate people, investigative reports before hiring people, etc. But the system of power still exists."

Sipe says the most recent case that came across his desk concerned a priest who was just ordained in 2005. That case will be part of the next huge dump of church sex abuse files. A court has ordered the L.A. Archdiocese to release more than 30-thousand pages  -- memos between top church officials and their lawyers, psychological records, complaints from parents, and correspondence with the Vatican about accused priests.

A spokesman for the archdiocese tells KPCC that the church is working to facilitate the release of the documents as promptly as possible. That could happen as soon as next month.