Voice of the Faithful® sees some slight, long overdue justice in the recent removal of retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony from public ministry for abetting clergy sexual abuse, a first in the decades-long scandal. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Mahony’s censure in a letter Jan. 31 in which he stated that, effective immediately, Mahony “would no longer have any administrative or public duties.”
Gomez also stated in his letter that he had accepted the resignation of Santa Barbara Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who as a monsignor under Mahony had discussed with him how to hide molestation of children by priests from parishioners, police and the public.
VOTF has long stressed that Church discipline of hierarchy involved in the clergy sexual scandal is absolutely necessary to show that the Church will not tolerate child sex abuse. Holding bishops accountable also is a crucial step towards renewal and healing. Although Gomez’s action appears little more than a slap on the wrist for Mahony, the move, which is likely unprecedented in Church history, does signal a move in the right direction.
But more is needed. “All secret files must be released,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president, “and made public before we gain closure on this deplorable piece of our Catholic fabric, which not only was stained repeatedly by abusive priests, but also—and worse—was covered up by a complicit hierarchy.”
Bishop Gomez’s action follows the release of thousands of pages of confidential Church documents on clergy sexual abuse in the Los Angeles Archdiocese containing the names of Church leaders who had covered up clergy sexual abuse of children. These names formerly had been blacked out of the documents, but the un-redacted documents were released after a judge’s order to do so.
In a letter to parishioners, Gomez calls the behavior described in the documents “terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.” VOTF agrees.
The formerly secret documents now are being assessed for possible actions by state authorities, but many of the crimes that have come to light so far are likely to fall outside California’s statute of limitation on child sex abuse. This underscores the necessity of reforming such statutes, which VOTF and other organizations have stated repeatedly is necessary to protect children adequately from predators and bring some measure of justice to survivors.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.