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L.A. Church Sex Abuse Cover-Up

mahony-scandalThe Los Angeles County district attorney’s office plans to review newly released records from the late 1980s that show then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top aide worked to conceal pedophile priests from law enforcement.

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LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger Mahony intends to help select a new pope in Rome despite calls from some critics that he withdraw from the process in the wake of revelations about his actions in the priest sex-abuse scandal.

The day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation almost two weeks ago, Mahony wrote on his blog that he looked forward to participating in the conclave of cardinals in Rome to elect Benedict’s successor.

That stance elicited some criticism given that last month the Los Angeles Archdiocese stripped Mahony, its former archbishop, of his public duties after it was revealed that he plotted to conceal child molestation by priests.

But Mahony indicated via Twitter on Friday that he still would be part of the sequestered papal selection process.

He tweeted: “Just a few short hours before my departure for Rome. Will be tweeting often from Rome, except during the actual Conclave itself. Prayers!”

On Saturday, a group called Catholics United delivered a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures asking that Mahony not participate in the conclave because of the abuse scandals that happened under his watch, said Chris Pumpelly, spokesman for Catholics United.

The petition was delivered to St. Charles Borromeo in North Hollywood, where the cardinal resides. It was accepted by a church staff member.

Pumpelly said  the conclave offers “an opportunity for healing in the church” and that having someone like Mahony, with his complicated history, runs counter to that.

“This is one thing that would cast a cloud of scandal and shame over the conclave,” Pumpelly said of the participation of Mahony and others connected to priest abuse scandals.

Also Saturday, just before his planned departure for Rome, a “relatively unflappable” Mahony answered questions under oath for more than 3½ hours about his handling of abuse cases, according to the lawyer who questioned him.

“He remained calm and seemingly collected at all times,” said attorney Anthony De Marco, who represents a man suing the archdiocese over abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a priest who visited his parish in 1987.

Mahony has been deposed many times about abuse cases but Saturday’s session was the first time he has been asked about recently released church records that show he shielded abusers from law enforcement.

De Marco declined to detail the questions he asked or the answers the cardinal provided, citing a judge’s protective order.

Church officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The case, set for trial in April, concerns a Mexican priest, Nicholas Aguilar Rivera. Authorities believe he molested at least 26 children during a nine-month stay in Los Angeles.

The recently released church files show Aguilar Rivera fled to Mexico after a top Mahony aide, Thomas Curry, warned him that parents were likely to go the police and that he was in “a good deal of danger.”

Aguilar Rivera remains a fugitive in Mexico.

The archdiocese had agreed Mahony could be questioned for four hours about Aguilar Rivera and 25 other priests accused in the same period.

De Marco said he did not get to ask everything he wanted and would seek additional time after the cardinal returned from the Vatican.

Past depositions of Mahony have eventually become public, and De Marco said he would follow court procedures to seek the release of a transcript of Saturday’s deposition.

-Los Angeles Times

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — A Catholic organization has delivered a petition with thousands of signatures asking Cardinal Roger Mahony to recuse himself from the conclave in Rome that will select the next pope.

The group, Catholics United, collected nearly 10,000 signatures making “a simple request” that the former archbishop of Los Angeles not participate in the process because of the priest abuse scandals that happened under his watch, said Chris Pumpelly, communications director for Catholics United.

The petition was delivered Saturday to St. Charles Borromeo in North Hollywood, where the cardinal resides. It was accepted by a church staff member.

Pumpelly said that the conclave offers “an opportunity for healing in the church” and that having someone like Mahony, with his complicated history, runs counter to that.

“This is one thing that would cast a cloud of scandal and shame over the conclave,” Pumpelly said of the participation of Mahony and others connected to priest abuse scandals.

Last month, the archdiocese stripped Mahony of his public duties amid revelations that he plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement.

But he is still set to be one of the 117 cardinals who will take part in the conclave, the sequestered process through which the Catholic Church selects its pontiff.

Mahony wrote on his blog that he looked forward to “traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor.”

After delivering the petition, organizers attended Mass at the parish to pray for healing and for the future of the church.

Los Angeles Times

catholic-stained-glassLOS ANGELES — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has quietly added two dozen priests and brothers to its list of clergy accused of child molestation.

Though the church deems the allegations against the men credible, the archdiocese has declined to release information about the complaints, including the number of accusers, the dates of the alleged abuse and the parishes where the men worked.

The names were disclosed in a two-page report posted on the archdiocese’s website last month alongside 12,000 pages of internal records related to its handling of abuse claims.

The document was discovered recently by BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that researches and archives records of the Catholic abuse scandal.

The group’s president, who stumbled upon the document during a recent Google search, criticized the inconspicuous way the men were named and the lack of information provided about their cases.

“The terrible mess in the Catholic church happened because information was hidden and controlled, and that attitude is very clearly wrong,” said Terry McKiernan.

He said he was stunned to see so many new names suddenly connected to a scandal in which details and key figures have been recounted for 11 years in lawsuits, criminal probes, news articles, books and documentaries.

“The fact is that real people did these things to real children, and you don’t really understand what is happening until you have the names,” he said.

A lawyer for the archdiocese denied the church was trying to bury the list by including it in the massive release of internal abuse records. J. Michael Hennigan said the archdiocese informed child protective services and law enforcement years ago about men on the list who were still alive. He noted that the 24 men accused were never sued in court or charged criminally and said the archdiocese was under no requirement to name them in the first place.

“It’s making something that was a voluntary disclosure into a cover-up. It’s just not true,” Hennigan said.

L.A. County district attorney’s officials said they were reviewing the archdiocese’s recent release of records, including the updated list of accused abusers..

The dearth of information about 22 priests and two brothers is in contrast to the archdiocese’s approach to identifying accused abusers in the mid-2000s.

At that time, the archdiocese named 236 priests and provided the dates of the abuse alleged, the number of accusers and in most cases, a chronology of how church leaders dealt with their cases. The newly posted report is dated October 2008, but the online file shows it was created in 2013.

Hennigan said the church drew up the report in 2008 after a comprehensive review of personnel files found additional abuse allegations that fit the archdiocese’s standard for disclosure of being “public or credible.” He said the 24 men never previously identified as alleged abusers in court or in the news media were included alongside 26 other priests who had been publicly accused but inadvertently left off previous lists.

He said the church posted the report on its website in October 2008. It remained online for about a month before it was removed for reasons that are now unclear, he said.

Hennigan said that more than four years later, as church officials prepared for the large-scale release of abuse records, they looked for the report and could not find it in their computer system. He said a church official then located a paper copy in the archdiocese’s office and re-scanned it for posting.

During the month-long period in 2008 when the archdiocese says the document was online, it appears to have attracted no notice in the circle of victim advocates and plaintiffs’ lawyers who closely track the church’s disclosures.

“I just saw this for the first time today,” said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who has worked for more than a decade as a consultant to plaintiffs and prosecutors in Catholic sex abuse cases. In a letter to Archbishop Jose Gomez this week, McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org commended the archdiocese for releasing the names, something that other church jurisdictions have refused to do. But, he said, the timing of the release raised questions, and the information provided was inadequate.

“It is essential for everyone to know the nature of the allegations against these priests and brothers, because some of them may still pose a danger to children in Los Angeles, elsewhere in the United States, and in other countries,” McKiernan wrote.

Anthony DeMarco, an attorney for abuse victims, said he was unaware of the list before this week, but not surprised that it contained unfamiliar names.

“On a regular basis I get calls from people who were abused by priests over the years and those priests were never part of prior litigation,” he said. “More needs to be known about each one of these folks.”

None of the 24 men named are currently working as ministers in the archdiocese, according to the report. The status of 11 of the men is listed as “Left Archdiocese” or “Unknown.” Five are dead, three have been defrocked, three are on inactive leave, one was excommunicated and one is described by the list as “Canonically suspended.”

Because the church has not provided any information, it is impossible to determine the severity of the complaints against them or whether they have been exonerated by church investigations.

One priest, whom the archdiocese lists as on inactive leave, is working as a counselor in Northern California. News clippings indicate he left the priesthood decades ago. Another priest is working in a diocese in the Philippines, according to a government directory.

One man named, a defrocked priest who is now married with children, said the archdiocese had not informed him they were identifying him as an alleged abuser. In a brief conversation, the former priest declined to answer questions about whether he should have been on the list, as well as what the allegations against him were and whether they had merit.

“I don’t think I should be speaking to a reporter about the nature of all this,” he said. “My life is happy and peaceful at this point.”

-Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Police Department detectives who specialize in child sexual abuse cases have begun examining a trove of newly disclosed priest abuse files to determine whether there are cases that can be prosecuted.

priest-abuseCapt. Fabian Lizarraga said detectives “are currently reviewing the [files], to see exactly what we have…. Then we’ll have to see what, if any, laws apply and if they’re within statute,” he said.

Detectives are limited by a law that only allows the prosecution of incidents since 1988. Many of the files appear to pre-date that year.

Lizarraga said the LAPD will be focusing specifically Los Angeles-based priests.

The LAPD decided to launch the review after the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese last week 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,” Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote in a letter announcing the release of the records.

Allegations against some of the priests contained in the records have been known for some time. And it remains unclear whether detectives will be able to build additional criminal cases in the long-running scandal.

On Jan. 21, The Times obtained files involving  14 clerics accused of abuse.

Last week, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of the previously secret personnel files of 122 additional priests accused of molesting children

They laid out in the words of Cardinal Roger Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry how the church hierarchy had plotted to keep law enforcement from learning that children had been molested at the hands of priests.

To stave off investigations, Mahony and Curry gave priests who they knew had abused children out-of-state assignments and kept them from seeing therapists who might alert authorities.

Mahony and Curry both issued apologies, with the cardinal saying he had not realized the extent of harm done to children until he met with victims during civil litigation. “I am sorry,” he said.

Victims called for new criminal investigations and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said it was reviewing the newly released files.

On Monday, Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy also said that the school system would cross-reference its employment records with documents made public by both the archdiocese and the Boy Scouts, another organization accused of concealing molestation allegations.

“We are in the business of insuring that schools are safe and that students are free from predators,” Deasy said.

An ex-priest who allegedly admitted a sexual relationship with a minor remained employed by the LAUSD for more than a decade despite several warning flags about his background.

Joseph Pina is also said in internal church documents to have admitted to repeated “boundary issues” with women throughout his career in the clergy.

An internal 1993 psychological evaluation by the L.A. archdiocese concluded that Pina “remains a serious risk for acting out.”

Nine years later, L.A. Unified hired him as a community outreach coordinator for its $19.5-billion school construction effort.

In that position, Pina came in frequent contact with families at community events but did not work directly with children in schools.

No allegations of impropriety have emerged during Pina’s employment with L.A. Unified. But Deasy said the district has severed ties with Pina, adding that the district never should have hired him given his background.

A church spokesman said Monday that it did warn the school district in the form of a questionnaire that L.A. Unified sent to the archdiocese in August 2001.

“In response to the question: ‘Should the Los Angeles Unified School District consider anything else regarding this candidate’s employment suitability?’ the archdiocese checked the box ‘yes,’ adding that we would ‘not recommend him for a position in the schools,’” Tod Tamberg, director of media relations, said in a statement.

“In response to the next question on the form, ‘Would you hire this person again?’ the archdiocese checked the box ‘no,’” Tamberg said.

“There is no indication in our files of any follow-up from LAUSD once the form was returned to the LAUSD,” he said in the statement.

Deasy said the district was researching any past contact with the archdiocese as part of a larger investigation into how Pina was hired.

The district could find no record of the questionnaire, Deasy said. At that time, the facilities division handled its own hiring to insulate the building program from potential political influence over billions of dollars in contracts.

The church waited years to report Pina’s alleged sexual misconduct to police. And Deasy questioned why the church wouldn’t do more to warn school officials about molestation allegations.

“Why wouldn’t someone pick up the phone and notify us if there was something as egregious as is now being alleged?” he said.

But there were other red flags that were not acted on.

The allegations against Pina were included in two front-page Times stories about the priest scandal in 2002 and 2006.

A district internal review has determined that a staffer noticed Pina’s name in published accounts, Deasy said. The employee passed the information to senior officials in the facilities division, Deasy said.

The employee recalled that officials decided to take no action because Pina had not been convicted of a crime, according to Deasy.

-Los Angeles Times

A former priest and suspected child molester left employment with the Los Angeles archdiocese to work for the L.A. Unified School District, officials confirmed Sunday.

The former clergyman, Joseph Pina, did not work with children in his school district job, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said.

pinaHe added that, as a result of the disclosures, Pina would no longer be employed by the nation’s second-largest school system.

Over the weekend, Deasy was unable to pull together Pina’s full employment history, but said the district already was looking into the matter of Pina’s hiring.

“I find it troubling,” he said of the disclosures about Pina. “And I also want to understand what knowledge that we had of any background problems when hiring him, and I don’t yet know that.”

L.A. Unified itself has come under fire in the last year for its handling of employees accused of sexual misconduct.

Pina, 66, was laid off from his full-time district job last year, but returned to work episodically to organize events.

One event he may have helped organize was a ribbon-cutting Saturday for a new education facility. School district officials over the weekend, however, could not confirm that.

Pina did not attend the event, and the district could not confirm payment for any help he may have provided.

Pina’s name emerged in documents released by the archdiocese to comply with a court order.

His case was one of many in which church officials failed to take action to protect child victims and in which first consideration was given to helping the offending priests rather than their victims, according to the documentation.

A just-released, internal 1993 psychological evaluation states that Pina “remains a serious risk for acting out.”

The evaluation recounts how Pina was attracted to a victim, an eighth-grade girl, when he saw her in a costume.

“She dressed as Snow White … I had a crush on Snow White, so I started to open myself up to her,” he told the psychologist.

“I felt like I fell in love with her. I got sexually involved with her, but never intercourse. She was about 17 when we got involved sexually, and it continued until she was about 19.”

In a report sent to a top Mahony aide, the psychologist expressed concern the abuse was never reported to authorities.

Pina’s evaluation also includes a recommendation “to take appropriate measures and precautions to insure that he is not in a setting where he can victimize others.”

Pina continued to work as a pastor as late as March 1998.

School district officials could not verify Pina’s hiring date over the weekend, but he took a job with L.A. Unified as the school system was carrying out the nation’s largest school construction program.

His job involved community outreach, building support for school projects, while also finding out communities’ concerns and trying to address them, officials said.

Such work was crucial to the program, because even though communities wanted new schools, their locations and other elements could prove controversial.

Such projects frequently involved tearing down homes or businesses, environmental cleanups, and the blocking of streets and other disruptions.

“His duties were to rally community support and elicit community comments regarding schools in a neighborhood,” district spokesman Tom Waldman said.

Pina’s work did bring him into contact with families, frequently at public meetings organized to hear and address their concerns.

Projects that Pina worked on included a new elementary school in Porter Ranch and a high school serving the west San Fernando Valley, Waldman said.

The high school, in particular, generated substantial public debate as a district team and a local charter school competed aggressively for control of the site.

The $19.5-billion building program is winding down, and, as a result, many jobs attached to it have come to an end. Pina’s was among them.

The dedication he may have helped organize Saturday was for the Richard N. Slawson Southeast Occupational Center in Bell.

Participants told KCET-TV, which first reported Pina’s school employment, that he had assisted with community outreach on that project.

The adult education and career technical education facility has 29 classrooms as well as health-career labs and child care for students. The school opened in August 2012.

Pina “was slated for some additional temporary work when the issue came to our attention last week and that work was canceled,” Deasy said.

It may have been Pina who first alerted district officials that his name appeared in disclosed documents, Deasy said.

Pina called a senior administrator in the facilities division. So far, no untoward issues have emerged regarding Pina’s work for L.A. Unified.

-Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Speaking to parishioners gathered at Catholic churches across the city, church leaders on Sunday read a letter from Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez made public last week regarding the mishandling of the clergy child abuse scandal and expressed their own concerns.

“We have been reminded about sin in our church. … The important thing for us to remember is that there are victims in this,” said Monsignor Robert J. Gallagher of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood.

Gallagher thanked the roughly 100 parishioners for their prayers in what he called one of the darkest periods in his 40 years with the church.

St. Borromeo is the home of retired Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who is at the center of the controversy. Mahony was not present during the 7:30 a.m. service.

After the service, Gallagher said he was pleased that Mahony had met with more than 90 child sex abuse victims to ask for forgiveness for himself and the church.

He said he recently had dinner with Mahony, who told him that he was meeting with another victim Monday.

In a church bulletin, Gallagher wrote a letter to parishioners expanding on his feelings about the child abuse scandal: “The real victims are those who were robbed of their childhood, whether by a priest or some other trusted adult. They are the ones who deserve our prayers, our apologies, and any other gesture that will invite them to be restored to the conviction of God’s love for them.”

Eric Nielsen, 52, a parishioner at the church since 1981, said after Sunday services that “this will probably be my last time coming here” because he was unsettled by the child abuse scandal.

“I take my hat off to the archbishop,” Nielsen said. “He got on the ball and did what needed to be done.”

“It’s a shame,” he added.

In a move unprecedented in the U.S. Catholic Church, Gomez announced Thursday that he had relieved Mahony, his predecessor as archbishop, of all public duties over his handling 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 the previously secret personnel files of 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 his 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.

-Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger Mahony says he was not prepared to deal with child sexual abuse…when he first came to lead the Los Angeles archdiocese.

“Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.  In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a master’s degree in social work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children”.

In a letter …posted to his blog Mahony  says …” I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s.  I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the archdiocese was safe for everyone”.

The letter is addressed to Mahony’s successor Archbishop Jose Gomez…one day after Gomez relieved Mahony–of all public duties in light of the Cardinal’s mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago.

Details of that abuse were made public for the first time yesterday when the church posted on its website 12-thousand of previously secret personnel files for 122 priests accused of molesting children.

Mahony writes…”from 2003 to 2012 the archdiocese underwent several compliance audits by professional firms retained for this purpose…every single audit concluded that the archdiocese was in full compliance with the charter.

Addressing Gomez, Mahony writes..”when you were formally received as our archbishop on may 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth….”

“Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors”

“Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then.  But when I retired as the active archbishop, I handed over to you an archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth”.

– Carolyn Costello, KTLA News

mahonyFriends in Christ,

This morning I sent this letter to Archbishop Jose H. Gomez giving the history and context of what we have been through since the mid-1980s.

There is nothing confidential in my letter.   I have been encouraged by others to publish it, so I am do so on my personal Blog. I hope you find it useful.

+ + + + +

February 1, 2013

Dear Archbishop Gomez:

In this letter I wish to outline briefly how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and I responded to the evolving scandal of clergy sexual misconduct, especially involving minors.

Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.  In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children.  While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed.

Shortly after I was installed on September 5, 1985 I took steps to create an Office of the Vicar for the Clergy so that all our efforts in helping our priests could be located in one place.  In the summer of 1986 I invited an attorney-friend from Stockton to address our priests during our annual retreat at St. John’s Seminary on the topic of the sexual abuse of minors.

Towards the end of 1986 work began with the Council of Priests to develop policies and procedures to guide all of us in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct.  Those underwent much review across the Archdiocese, and were adopted in 1989.

During these intervening years a small number of cases did arise.  I sought advice from several other Bishops across the country, including Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, and then Bishop Adam Maida of Green Bay.  I consulted with our Episcopal Conference frequently.

All the advice was to remove priests from active ministry if there was reasonable suspicion that abuse had occurred, and then refer them to one of the several residential treatment centers across the country for evaluation and recommendation.

This procedure was standard across the country for all Arch/Dioceses, for School Districts, for other Churches, and for all Youth Organizations that dealt with minors.  We were never told that, in fact, following these procedures was not effective, and that perpetrators were incapable of being treated in such a way that they could safely pursue priestly ministry.

During the 1990s our own policies and procedures evolved and became more stringent.  We had learned from the mistakes of the 1980s and the new procedures reflected this change.  In 1994 we became one of the first Archdioceses in the world to institute a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board [SAAB] which gave helpful insights and recommendations to the Vicar for the Clergy on how to deal with these cases.

Through the help of this Board, we moved towards a “zero tolerance” policy for clergy who had allegations against them which had proven true.

In 2002 we greatly expanded the SAAB group into the new Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board.  They were instrumental in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and served as an invaluable body for me and our Archdiocese.  They dealt with every case with great care, justice, and concern for our youth.

From 2003 to 2012 the Archdiocese underwent several Compliance Audits by professional firms retained for this purpose.  Most Auditors were retired FBI agents, and extremely competent.  Every single Audit concluded that the Archdiocese was in full compliance with the Charter.

When you were formally received as our Archbishop on May 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth.  You became our official Archbishop on March 1, 2011 and you were personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012—again, in which we were deemed to be in full compliance.

Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.

I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s.  I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.

Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then.  But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an Archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.

With every best wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,
His Eminence
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles

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.”

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