Letters show L.A. Catholic archdiocese tried to hide abuse of children by priests

Jan 22, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Holds Concistory

Cardinal Roger Mahony former archbishop of Los Angeles (C) attends the concistory held by Pope Benedict XV at the Saint Peter’s Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles Roger M. Mahoney has again apologized for his involvement over twenty years ago in concealing child molestation by priests from law enforcement, including keeping clergy out of California to avoid prosecution. Mahoney’s apology came as his previously confidential correspondence from 1986 and 1987 recently became public evidence in a civil court case.

Mahoney has been questioned under oath in previous depositions numerous times about his handling of molestation cases, but the newly released memos written by Mahoney and other church administrators provide the strongest indication of a concerted effort by leaders in the nation’s largest Catholic diocese to protect abusers from police. Last week, Anthony De Marco, the attorney representing a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against the archdiocese asked a judge to order Mahoney and others to submit to new depositions “regarding their actions, knowledge and intent as referenced in these files.” In an apologetic statement, Mahoney confessed that memos written in those years “sometimes focused more on the needs of the perpetrator than on the serious harm that had been done to the victims.”

Why did it take years for these memos to be released and made public? Is the archdiocese still trying to hide evidence that may incriminate current and former clergy? How responsible is Mahoney for the sexual abuse of children? How can victims of this abuse best recover and move on with their lives?


Harriet Ryan, reporter with the Los Angeles Times who co-wrote the Times cover story

Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

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