LOS ANGELES — In a move unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday that he had relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago.
Gomez also said that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who worked with Mahony to conceal abusers from police in the 1980s, had resigned his post as a regional bishop in Santa Barbara.
The announcement came as the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of previously secret personnel files for 122 priests accused of molesting children.
“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” Gomez wrote in a letter addressed to “My brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The release of the records and the rebuke of the two central figures in L.A.’s molestation scandal signaled a clear desire by Gomez to define the sexual abuse crisis as a problem of a different era — and a different archbishop.
“I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages. Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused has been the saddest experience I’ve had since becoming your Archbishop in 2011,” Gomez wrote.
The public censure of Mahony, whose quarter-century at the helm of America’s largest archdiocese made him one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church, was unparalleled, experts said.
“This is very unusual and shows really how seriously they’re taking this. To tell a cardinal he can’t do confirmations, can’t do things in public, that’s extraordinary,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and Georgetown University fellow.
An archdiocese spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said that beyond canceling his confirmation schedule, Mahony’s day-to-day life as a retired priest would be largely unchanged.
He resides at a North Hollywood parish, and Tamberg said he would remain a “priest in good standing.”