SALT LAKE CITY — Amid ongoing fallout from a new report on sexual abuse by clergy, an embattled Catholic leader has cancelled plans to come to Utah next month.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, who led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011, was previously accused of covering up sexual abuse allegations against more than 45 priests. He was supposed to appear at an annual fundraiser for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City on Sept. 6.
"Please note, Cardinal (Mahony) will not be attending the annual Bishop's Dinner for the Cathedral of the Madeleine," the diocese announced Monday night on Twitter.
Catholics around the world are reeling from a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, which was released last week. It highlighted allegations by more than 1,000 victims, implicating around 300 priests and condemning others for being more interested in protecting the church's reputation than children.
"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them," Pope Francis said in a statement released Monday.
The Most Rev. Oscar Solis, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, also released a statement on the report, asking for forgiveness for church leaders and calling for prayers for the people affected by clergy sexual abuse.
"I express my personal shame, distress and anger concerning the sexual abuse committed by some of our priests, bishops and church leaders against our children, young people and adults whom we are supposed to serve and to protect. It is distressing that some leaders have mishandled allegations of abuse, covered up such sinful acts and were not held accountable," he said.
Cardinal Mahony's poor reputation on clergy sexual abuse stems from his time leading the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Documents released in 2013 outlined his efforts to separate abusive priests from children without harming the Catholic Church's reputation, as the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
"Along with sworn testimony by Mahony and his advisers and interviews with church officials, victims' families and others, the nearly 23,000 pages maintained by the archdiocese and various religious orders suggest a man who was troubled over abuse but more worried about scandal — and how it might derail the agenda he had for himself and his church," the article noted.
His involvement in the scandal soured his relationship to his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, who limited the scope of his ongoing service to the Catholic Church.8 comments on this story
"My predecessor, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care. Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties," Archbishop Gomez wrote in 2013.
In his statement on the report on clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, Bishop Solis said he will do what he can to protect Catholics in Utah.
"Our Diocese of Salt Lake City pledges to take action to the best of our ability to review our policies and programs, hoping and praying that we can prevent these sins from happening again," Solis statement
The diocese said a new speaker for the annual fundraising dinner will be announced shortly.