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US church releases priest abuse files

Los Angeles church issues thousands of documents related to sex abuse by priests, acknowledging a "shameful" cover-up.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2013 06:25
The Catholic Church in Los Angeles is the largest in the United States [AP]

The Catholic Church in Los Angeles has released thousands of pages of documents related to sex abuse by priests, acknowledging a cover-up as "a sad and shameful chapter" of the church.

The Los Angeles archdiocese also announced on Thursday that it has removed top ranking church leaders who have been linked to efforts to conceal the abuses, after years of legal battles.

"The 2013 public release of the files of clergy who were subject of the 2007 global settlement concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church," the archdiocese said in a statement attributed to Archbishop Jose Gomez.

That 2007 settlement with the victims of the abuse cost the church as much as $660m. The Catholic Church in Los Angeles is the largest in the United States.

Gomez also said that his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has been barred from any future administrative or public duties in the church.

Additionally, Gomez said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry had stepped down as regional bishop of Santa Barbara.
The files containing thousands of pages, which date as far back as the 1940s, were made public more than a week after church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed.

'Terrible failure'

The release is part of a separate civil suit, showing that church officials plotted to conceal the molestations from law enforcement as late as 1987.

The judge also ordered Catholic leaders in Los Angeles to identify senior church officials accused of sexually abusing children, in a move welcomed by campaigners for victims.

"These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious," Gomez wrote,
"The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed," Gomez added. "We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today."

Mahony and Curry, his top adviser, both worked to send priests accused of abuse out of state to shield known molesters in the clergy from law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s, the files released previously showed.

"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 said.

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