NYTIMES The retired archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, and other high-ranking clergymen in the archdiocese worked quietly to keep evidence of child molesting away from law enforcement officials and shield abusive priests from criminal prosecution more than a decade before the scandal became public, according to confidential church records.
The documents, filed in court as part of lawsuit against the archdiocese and posted online by The Los Angeles Times on Monday, offer the clearest glimpse yet of how the archdiocese dealt with abusive priests in the decades before the scandal broke, including Cardinal Mahony’s personal involvement in covering up their crimes.
Rather than defrocking priests and contacting the police, the archdiocese sent priests who had molested children to out-of-state treatment facilities, in large part because therapists in California were legally obligated to report any evidence of child abuse to the police, the files make clear. [...]
In a written statement released on Monday, Cardinal Mahony, who took over the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1985 and retired in 2011, apologized to the victims of the sexual abuse.
“Various steps 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,” the statement said. “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.”
Cardinal Mahony said he came to understand that impact only two decades later, when he met with almost 100 victims of sexual abuse by priests under his charge. He now keeps an index card for each one of those victims, praying for each one every day, he said in the statement.