Cardinal in church sex scandal stripped of duties

By Gillian Flaccus

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.

He has survived three grand jury investigations and several depositions by civil attorneys representing alleged abuse victims.

Prosecutors, who have been stymied for years in their attempts to see the internal church files, have said they will search for new evidence of criminal wrongdoing by church leaders. Most of the material, however, now falls well outside the statute of limitations.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias ordered the diocese to turn over the files Thursday without blacking out the names of top church officials who were responsible for handling the priests.

The judge gave the archdiocese until Feb. 22 to turn over the files, but they were released less than an hour after she signed the order.

While the church left the names of church leaders intact, as specified, they removed names of victims, witnesses and priests who weren't accused. In some instances, whole sections were removed.

The church said in a statement that the files' release "concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church."

The archdiocese, the nation's largest with 4.3 million members, had planned to black out the names of members of the hierarchy who were responsible for the priests, and instead provide a cover sheet for each priest's file, listing the names of top officials who handled that case. The church reversed course Wednesday after The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and plaintiff attorneys objected.

A record-breaking $660 million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 alleged victims paved the way for the ultimate disclosure, but the archdiocese and individual priests fought to keep them secret for more than five years.

Some church critics said Gomez's actions, particularly against Mahony, amounted to a slap on the wrist as long as he remained a cardinal and a member of the powerful Vatican body that elects the Pope.

The reprimand is a "purely symbolic punishment that they hope will satisfy at least some people in the archdiocese," said Terry McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the release of priest files nationally.

"I don't think that many savvy observers of this will be deceived."

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Associated Press Writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.

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