February 4, 2013 in Nation/World

Archbishop’s letter on abuse read in churches

Associated Press
 

LOS ANGELES – Roman Catholic parishioners in the Los Angeles area heard a letter from Archbishop Jose Gomez in which he described newly released files on clergy sex abuse as “terribly sad and evil.”

Church leaders read the archbishop’s words at Sunday Mass across the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which extends into Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the Los Angeles Times reported. The letter, addressed to “My brothers and sisters in Christ,” was made public last week.

On Thursday, Gomez stripped his predecessor Cardinal Roger Mahony of his administrative duties for failing to take swift action against abusive priests.

In a letter posted on his personal blog Friday, Mahony challenged Gomez for publicly shaming him and said he developed policies to safeguard children after taking over in 1985, despite being unequipped to deal with the molester priests he inherited.

Mahony had apologized two weeks ago after a release of similar files showed he and other top aides worked to protect the church from the growing scandal, keep offending clerics out of state and prevent public disclosure of sex crimes committed by priests.

Gomez’s rebuke and Mahony’s public response were unprecedented because they revealed infighting between two highly placed church leaders in a Roman Catholic hierarchy that rarely break ranks publicly, according to the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who worked for the Vatican’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

Following a court order, the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of the previously secret personnel files of 122 priests accused of molesting children.

“The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” Gomez wrote in his letter. “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”

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