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More priest abuse files must be released by September, judge says


More priest abuse files must be released by September, judge says

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From the link: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news%2Flocal%2Flos_angeles&id=9119560

Catholic Church officials have until September to release secret files on priests accused of molesting children in the Los Angeles archdiocese.

Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias made the ruling Tuesday and attorneys say the first files could be made public within the next few weeks.

After a five-year legal battle to keep the documents sealed, the archdiocese released files on 120 priests earlier this year, but many clergy members who worked within the archdiocese weren’t included if they belonged to separate religious orders.

Religious order priests often were assigned to work in Los Angeles parishes but belonged to separate organizations, each of which had its own chain of command and specific mission.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2013 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

After rebuke by archbishop, Cardinal Mahony takes higher profile


After rebuke by archbishop, Cardinal Mahony takes higher profile

Stripped of public duties by Archbishop Jose Gomez over mishandling of clergy sex abuse cases, Mahony has begun what some call a rehabilitation tour.

Editorial: Sex abuse accountability should be universal law


Editorial: Sex abuse accountability should be universal law

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From the link: http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/editorial-sex-abuse-accountability-should-be-universal-law

In late February, Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna told Italian journalists, “From now on, no one” — and when he said “no one” he meant the 117 cardinals coming to Rome for the conclave that would elect Pope Francis — “will be able to say they know nothing about what goes on regarding clerical sex abuse.” Efforts begun by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and continued by Pope Benedict XVI are “now a fundamental part of the church’s response to sex abuse,” Scicluna said. “It will be part of the leadership program of whoever is elected in the Sistine Chapel.”

Scicluna, of course, is more than an auxiliary bishop from Malta. He was the prosecutor handling sex abuse cases for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 10 years until he was made a bishop last year. He, under the leadership of Ratzinger as the doctrinal congregation’s prefect, deserves credit for breaking the ecclesial logjam and beginning to move effectively against clergy who had abused children.

As we sort through Benedict’s pontificate and his more than three-decades-long legacy at the top of the church hierarchy, it would be wrong to too easily dismiss what Benedict did to protect children from clergy sex abusers. This does not mean his record is blemish-free or that we agree entirely with the processes used by bishops and the Curia to handle cases of abuse brought against clergy. But there can be no doubt that the church and her children would be in a far worse position if Benedict had not taken control of these cases in 2002.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George acknowledged this in interviews he did before the conclave. “Whoever is elected pope … he obviously has to accept the universal law of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who’s ever abused a minor child.”

This seems to be a milestone for the church on this issue and a time for people who have long fought for it to be addressed to declare at least a small victory.

Scicluna concluded his interview saying that the “sore spots” in the church today are violations of the sixth and seventh commandments: sins against purity and theft. “We need to go back to the Gospel,” he said. “Whoever is elected pope will have to continue Ratzinger’s ‘purification’ work.”

Which brings us to Francis and what could be the next phase in the Catholic church’s struggle with this issue. Within days of the new pope’s election, his record of handling clergy sex abuse as archbishop of Buenos Aires was called into question. Our senior correspondent, John Allen, looked into these allegations during his recent trip to Argentina. Allen’s reporting indicates that apparently Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio handled cases of clergy sex abuse as any reasonable, cautious church leader of his generation would. We would suspect that he went through a learning process while acting within the constraints of civil and canon law.

To understand what his next steps as pope should be, it is helpful to know the circumstances under which Scicluna was being interviewed. The former prosecutor was being asked whether U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony should attend and vote in the conclave. Just weeks before, the Los Angeles archdiocese had finally complied with a court order to release tens of thousands of documents that clearly showed Mahony and his lieutenants shuffling abuser priests from parish to parish, hiding their whereabouts from law enforcement and discussing legal strategies to keep abusers and the archdiocese safe from prosecution. The release of those documents was enough to cause the current archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, to restrict Mahony from official archdiocesan duties. Mahony fought back with his personal blog, his Twitter account and his media savvy. He used his red hat to pull rank and forced Gomez to backpedal. Gomez declared that Mahony was still a priest and bishop in good standing. After hundreds of lives had been damaged and millions of dollars spent on futile legal delaying tactics, Mahony blithely boarded a plane for Rome, claiming a right to elect the new pope. Where is the justice in that?

Scicluna said the question of whether Mahony should join the conclave or not was a matter for the cardinal himself, a challenge for him to follow his conscience.

Mahony is Exhibit A for what Francis must do in the next phase of this crisis. It is no longer about frontline defense to protect children and remove offenders. The next phase of the crisis is all about accountability, the accountability of church leaders, bishops and chancery personnel who obstruct investigations or cover up crimes.

To date, the sex abuse crisis has been massively disruptive of the lives of priests and laypeople, but it has not made a huge difference in the lives of bishops because they have yet to be called to account. The Dallas Charter that can remove a priest or deacon from active ministry with one accusation of abuse is voluntary for bishops. Bishops in Lincoln, Neb., and Baker, Ore., have proven that, as have the leaders of seven Eastern rite eparchies in the United States who have never submitted to the charter. The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., found guilty in two civil jurisdictions for failure to report suspected child abuse, remains in office.

Zero tolerance for clergy child abusers is now the universal law of the church. Francis’ task is to lay down laws that will hold bishops liable for their actions and inactions, too. Bishops’ accountability to the people they serve must also become the universal law of the church.

L.A. Archdiocese to pay $10 million to 4 alleged abuse victims


L.A. Archdiocese to pay $10 million to 4 alleged abuse victims

By Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times March 12, 2013, 7:06 p.m.

From the link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0313-archdiocese-settlement-20130313,0,1962671.story

The agreement settles four suits against the archdiocese concerning Michael Baker, who authorities believe molested 23 boys over three decades as a parish priest.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay nearly $10 million to four men who say they were molested by one of the region’s most notorious pedophile priests.

The agreement brings to an end four lawsuits against the archdiocese involving Michael Baker, a charismatic parish priest accused of molesting at least 23 boys over three decades.

The church has settled numerous cases brought by Baker’s alleged victims in the past, but the $9.9-million settlement announced Tuesday is the first settlement since the January release of 12,000 pages of internal archdiocese records about abuse. Many of those documents detailed Cardinal Roger Mahony’s dealings with Baker.

The priest admitted his abuse of two boys to the then-archbishop during a 1986 retreat. Mahony sent Baker to a New Mexico treatment center but later returned him to the ministry, and Baker molested again. In 2007, he was convicted of abusing two boys and sent to prison.

Two of the civil cases settled were set for trial next month. Vince Finaldi, a lawyer for the alleged victims, said he believed the file release “played heavily” into the archdiocese’s decision to settle the cases.

“Once we got the files, it confirmed everything we had argued for years and years,” Finaldi said. “Cardinal Mahony’s fingerprints were all over the case.”

A lawyer for the archdiocese said the church was committed to compensating people hurt by Baker, and the negotiations were “just a matter of reaching a reasonable number.”

“We’ve taken responsibility for Michael Baker, whatever he did and for whomever he did it to,” said attorney J. Michael Hennigan.

A lawyer for Baker, who was defrocked in 2000, did not respond to messages seeking comment. Baker was released from prison in 2011 and lives in Costa Mesa. Baker is not required to pay anything under the terms of the settlement, Finaldi said.

The men who settled the suits range in age from 24 to 54. Two are brothers of a third man whom Baker was convicted of molesting. That third brother previously received a $2-million settlement. Under a distribution agreement determined by a judge, his brothers will receive $4 million each for abuse that they said they suffered in the mid-1990s.

A man who alleged that Baker abused him in 1974 and another who said the priest victimized him in the mid-1980s each received nearly $1 million.

Los Angeles archdiocese settles 4 sex abuse cases for $10M


Los Angeles archdiocese settles 4 sex abuse cases for $10M

From the link: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/12/los-angeles-archdiocese-settles-4-sex-abuse-cases-for-10m/

LOS ANGELES –  The Roman Catholic  Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay nearly $10 million to settle four cases  alleging abuse by a now-defrocked priest who told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly  30 years ago he had molested children, attorneys confirmed on Tuesday.

The cases involving ex-priest Michael Baker span 26 years from 1974 to 2000.  Two were set for trial next month. A judge had said attorneys for the plaintiffs  could pursue punitive damages at trial.

The cases were settled this week.

Two of the claims named Mahony and alleged he didn’t do enough to stop Baker  from abusing children, said plaintiff’s attorney John Manly.

Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011 and was rebuked by his  successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, last month after confidential church files  showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and  protect the church from scandal.

Mahony, who is in Rome helping select the next pope, was aware of the  settlement, said J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney.

“We have for a long, long time said that we made serious mistakes with  Michael Baker and we had always taken the position in these cases that whatever  Baker did we were responsible for,” he said. “That was never an issue.”

Baker could not be reached for comment.

Two of the plaintiffs, a pair of brothers, will get $4 million each, and the  two others will get nearly $1 million each, Manly said.

Confidential files show that Baker met with Mahony in 1986 and confessed to  molesting two boys over a nearly seven-year period.

Mahony removed Baker from ministry and sent him for psychological treatment,  but the priest returned to ministry the following year with a doctor’s  recommendation that he be defrocked immediately if he spent any time with  minors.

Despite several documented instances of being alone with boys, the priest  wasn’t removed from ministry until 2000 after serving in nine parishes.

Baker was convicted of child molestation in 2007 and paroled in 2011.

“The person who could have stopped this in its tracks and prevented three out  of four of these children from being sexually assaulted is now sitting in Rome  voting for the next vicar of Christ,” said Manly. “I find that terribly  troubling.”

Mahony has apologized repeatedly for his handling of clergy abuse cases. The  cardinal was sequestered for the papal conclave and could not be reached for  comment Tuesday.

The archdiocese settled more than 500 clergy abuse lawsuits in 2007 for a  record-breaking $660 million.

Baker was charged in 2002 with 34 counts of molestation involving six  victims, but those charges were dismissed because they fell outside the criminal  statute of limitations.

 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan Deposed About Abuse Cases Against Catholic Church When Archbishop Of Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Cardinal Timothy Dolan Deposed About Abuse Cases Against Catholic Church When Archbishop Of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By RACHEL ZOLL  02/20/13 08:35 PM ET EST AP

From the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/21/nyc-cardinal-dolan-deposed_n_2733340.html?ref=topbar

NEW YORK — Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was deposed Wednesday about abuse cases against Roman Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 until 2009.

Frank LoCoco, an attorney for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and Jeff Anderson, a plaintiffs’ attorney, confirmed the cardinal was deposed.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese faces allegations from nearly 500 people. Archbishop Jerome Listecki, the current Milwaukee church leader, sought bankruptcy protection in 2011, saying the process was needed to compensate victims fairly while ensuring the archdiocese could still function. Milwaukee is the eighth diocese in the U.S. to seek bankruptcy protection since the abuse scandal erupted in 2002 in Boston.

Dolan is one of two U.S. cardinals to be deposed this week. Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be questioned Saturday in a lawsuit over a visiting Mexican priest who police believe molested 26 children in 1987. The Rev. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera fled to Mexico in 1988 after parents complained. He has been ousted from the priesthood but remains a fugitive.

Both Dolan and Mahony will soon be in Rome to participate in the conclave that will elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who is resigning.

Pressure has been building in Italy for Mahony to bow out of the conclave; however, Mahony has indicated in postings on his blog and Twitter accounts that he will participate in the papal election.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese this month released thousands of pages under court order from the confidential personnel files of more than 120 accused clergy. The files show that Mahony and other top archdiocese officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield accused priests and protect the church from a growing scandal while keeping parishioners in the dark.

LoCoco said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that Dolan was asked about his decision to publicize the names of priests who molested children.

“The names were published so that people would come forward, share their story and begin what Cardinal Dolan and all those involved would be a healing process,” LoCoco said.

Dolan’s deposition was first reported by The New York Times.

Additional church officials deposed in connection with the bankruptcy and lawsuits include another former Milwaukee archbishop, Rembert Weakland; a retired auxiliary bishop; an archdiocese official who helps victims; the archdiocesan chancellor; and others, according to LoCoco and a spokesman for the Milwaukee archdiocese.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese recently said it was going broke. Its legal and other fees have reached nearly $9 million, according to court filings. Advocates for victims have accused the archdiocese of trying to shield assets by transferring millions of dollars separately into a cemetery trust fund and a parish fund several years ago.

Dolan is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His name has come up on some Vatican analysts’ lists of cardinals who could be elected in the upcoming conclave, though he is considered a longshot.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said Dolan had long-awaited the chance to discuss his decision to publicize the names as part of his efforts to help victims.

“He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could,” Zwilling said in a statement.

 

Victims: Pope Benedict Protects Accused Pedophile Bishops


Victims: Pope Benedict Protects Accused Pedophile Bishops

By  BRIAN ROSS , RHONDA SCHWARTZ and ANNA SCHECTER April 15, 2008

From the link: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4656143

Pope John Paul II is seen giving his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004. Maciel has been accused of sexually abusing children, including his own, in a lawsuit. He died in 2008.

Pope John Paul II is seen giving his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004. Maciel has been accused of sexually abusing children, including his own, in a lawsuit. He died in 2008.

Even as he told reporters on his flight to America that he was “deeply ashamed” over the church sex abuse scandal, Pope Benedict was accused by victims of protecting some 19 bishops accused of sexually abusing children.

“As a Catholic, I have to sadly conclude that he is not serious about ridding the church of corrupt bishops,” said Anne Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group tracking public records involving the bishops.

According to the group, of the 19 bishops “credibly accused of abusing children,” none has lost his title, been publicly censured by the Vatican or referred for criminal prosecutions.

“The sexual corruption in the Catholic church starts at the very top,” said Doyle.

Pope Benedict told reporters on his flight this morning from Rome to Washington, D.C., he would do everything possible to avoid a repeat of the scandal. “We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry,” he said, according to Reuters.

While the church has moved to expel accused priests, critics say the higher-ranking bishops have been given favored treatment. “The attitude of the bishops towards the victims and the families of sexual abuse and predatory clergy is drop dead,” said Michael Wegs, of Marion, Iowa, one of nine former high schools students who said they were abused at a seminary in Missouri by former Palm Beach, Fla. Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell.

When the allegations were made public, Bishop O’Connell admitted at least two cases of abuse and was allowed to resign. He now lives on the beautiful, sprawling grounds of  the Trappists Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina.

“He deserves to be in jail,” said Wegs, his accuser. “I don’t think there is any justice because he is allowed to travel, go where he please. He’s still a bishop, and he’s living among priests in the hierarchical structure; he is a top dog despite the fact that he’s a sexual predator.” Wegs says O’Connell has failed to even apologize to his victims.

Bishop O’Connell did not return phone calls from ABCNews.com seeking comment, but church officials say he and other bishops have been punished appropriately. “You cannot put on clerical attire, and you cannot service in a public way in ministry,” said Austin, Texas Bishop Gregory Aymond, chair of the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.

“That is a very, very significant consequence, and I would say a significant penalty,” said Bishop Aymond, who conceded the accused bishops maintain their title. “Priests and bishops remain priests and bishops forever, regardless of what happens to them or what they do,” said Bishop Aymond.

But victims groups and church critics say the pope can and should do much more to punish the bishops and finally resolve the scandal.

Before he became pope, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was in charge of monitoring cases of pedophile priests and was directly involved in deciding what punishment, if any, would be administered to priests and bishops.

“Priests who abuse children can be removed from the priesthood, but they do not remove bishops, they do not remove cardinals,” said author Jason Berry who has been tracking the sex abuse scandal and produced a documentary film on the subject, “Vows of Silence,” which premiered in New Orleans last night. “The problem is the power structure. There is no accountability,” said Berry.

Berry says the pope’s decision to have the Los Angeles archbishop, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, accompany him on his trip proves the point. “Why would you want someone in your entourage” like Roger Mahoney, asked Berry.

“This man has overseen a great many cases in which priests were moved from parish to parish. His diocese has paid over $660 million in settlements. And yet this cardinal has refused to release the files on these priests who have abused children,” Berry said.

Cardinal Mahoney did not return calls from ABC News seeking comment.

 

 

Records detail cardinal’s failings in abuse scandal


Records detail cardinal’s failings in abuse scandal
By Wayne Drash, CNN
February 22nd, 2013

07:15 PM ET
(CNN) – Told by two families that a visiting priest was suspected of molesting their children in 1988, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not immediately notify police. Instead, Cardinal Roger Mahony’s right-hand man alerted the priest – a heads-up that allowed him to flee the country for Mexico.

He remained in the priesthood there for another 21 years, allegedly continuing to molest. He has denied the accusations and remains a fugitive.

Newly released church documents show the behind-the-scenes machinations of top officials within the Los Angeles archdiocese making decisions on how to deal with pedophile priests, hindering police investigations and saying, in private, something completely different than what they said in public.

Mahony, one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church in America at the time, received constant updates on molesting priests and sometimes gave orders on how to deal with cases, including once telling subordinates to deny a police request for a list of altar boys. In at least one case, minute details like retirement benefits were discussed for an admitted molester.

On Saturday, Mahony faced a deposition, answering questions on his handling of the abuse scandal for the first time since the documents’ release.

He will journey next to Rome to join the conclave to decide the next pope – a decision that has stirred controversy among advocates of abuse victims and many Catholics.

Anthony De Marco, an attorney who has spent decades representing abuse victims, said the newly released documents surprised even him, because they show “how frequently there was correspondence back and forth between Cardinal Mahony and his top assistants and others after a priest was accused.”

“We know a lot more about his conduct and his words now than we ever have, and I believe that’s going to make for a much more thorough deposition,” said De Marco, ahead of the deposition he was scheduled to lead.

The archdiocese had fought for years against the documents’ being made public. But a judge ordered the release of the material – more than 12,000 pages that detail the extent of sexual abuse within the archdiocese dating back to the 1930s.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said in rebuking Mahony, his predecessor.

Still, Gomez supports Mahony on his journey to Rome, where he will join the papal conclave in the Sistine Chapel to choose the next pope. In a letter to priests within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Gomez asked them “to pray for Cardinal Mahony as he fulfills this sacred duty as Cardinal Elector.”

“I am confident that Cardinal Mahony’s accomplishments and experience in the areas of immigration, social justice, sacred liturgy, and the role of the laity in the Church will serve the College of Cardinals well,” Gomez said.

‘The children are not traumatized’

The case of the Rev. Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera is a microcosm of the larger abuse crisis within the church. It will be at the heart of the deposition.

At a time when the archdiocese was widening its base within the ever-growing Latino community in Southern California, Aguilar-Rivera came to the United States from Mexico, in March 1987. Aguilar-Rivera’s bishop in Mexico had asked the Los Angeles archdiocese to take him in.

The archdiocese welcomed him and found a spot for him in two parishes where parents trusted him with their children, unsupervised.

“He even used his status as a newcomer, his need to learn English, as his ruse for getting children alone,” said Terry McKiernan, founder of the church watchdog group BishopAccountability.org.  “It’s one of the most extreme combinations of devout Catholic people very open to a priest, very respectful of him, and the callousness and carelessness of hierarchy on both sides of the border about the dangers that this priest posed.”

McKiernan added, “This is a man who was a total predator, whose entire life and being seemed to be focused on abusing children.”

Once in the United States, Aguilar-Rivera was first sent to work at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church with a largely Mexican-American population in East Los Angeles. The bishop for that area, Juan Arzube, Mahony’s vicar general for the San Gabriel Region, had once been accused of molestation and often lobbied on behalf of molesting priests, arguing they deserved to be forgiven, the documents show.

Arzube denied molesting any children himself, but admitted under deposition to being alone with altar boys on many occasions in his rectory apartment. His name was part of a massive civil lawsuit settled with accusers in 2007.

Arzube’s cavalier attitude toward sexual abuse is summed up in a 1980 document in which he lobbied for reinstatement of a priest who had been stripped of his duties, for a second time, because he molested altar boys. “How many priests are there completely guiltless over a period of 10 years?” said Arzube, who died on Christmas Day in 2007 at age 89.

The first inkling of Aguilar-Rivera’s alleged ­actions in America came on Friday January 8, 1988, when two families – “all trustworthy people” – informed their pastor that they believed their children had been molested. The priest, in turn, told Thomas Curry, the vicar of clergy and Mahony’s second in command.

One incident “happened at Christmas when Father visited the other family,” Curry told Mahony in a letter dated January 10, 1988. “There was a good deal of drinking, and the family asked him to stay. He slept in the room with the children and is supposed to have gotten into bed with one of the boys that night.”

The principal of the boys’ school, Curry noted, had been informed of the accusations and “will be obliged to report it to police.”

But the church didn’t respond by first alerting police. Instead, Curry met with Aguilar-Rivera at the church the day after the allegations were made, a Saturday morning, and informed him that a police investigation would be launched.

“I offered to find a place for him to live until he could make other arrangements, but he volunteered that he would stay with his sister here and leave for Mexico on Monday or Tuesday of this week,” Curry wrote Mahony.

“… He asked that his bishop not be told, and I said that would not be possible. I told him the charges as I knew them, although I did not give the names of the families. He denied all, although he admitted that there was a good deal of drinking at Christmas. I told him that it was likely the accusations would be reported to the police and that he was in a good deal of danger.”

The documents show no suggestion on Curry’s or Mahony’s part that Aguilar-Rivera stay in the United States, cooperate with authorities and face the allegations.

Armed with the information, Aguilar-Rivera skipped town before police were notified on Monday, apparently by the school principal. That day, a detective asked an official within the archdiocese if Aguilar-Rivera intended to flee to Mexico.

“I said I was not sure,” said the official, who is not named in the documents. “I also said that Nicolas knew that it would probably be reported to the police, and that I had explained that some people were bound to report.”

Law enforcement took the allegations seriously and launched an investigation, even accusing the church of not fully cooperating with its efforts – an accusation that would eventually go public in a story in the Los Angeles Times.

One document says that a boy’s relative “had heard” that cops had accused church officials of a cover-up.  “The family does not want any trouble,” said the memo dated January 21, 1988. “They want [Aguilar-Rivera] to receive help and that he not be able to do this again.”

The memo added, “The children are not traumatized.”

Five days later, police pushed for a list of altar boys at St. Agatha’s, the second parish where Aguilar-Rivera worked. This request sent archdiocese officials into a frenzy.

Curry wrote Mahony that he believed the church should not cooperate.  “We have no evidence that Father Aguilar-Rivera was involved with altar boys as such,” Curry wrote on January 26, 1988. “All the boys involved were members of families he was friendly with in Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the alleged abuse took place while he was visiting these families or while they were visiting him.”

The pastor at St. Agatha, Curry continued, had no knowledge of abuse on his premises and “his concern is that if the police come and interview the boys, the matter will spread around the parish. The parish there is a black-Hispanic one, and he finds his situation as an Anglo pastor a very delicate one.”

“The whole issue of our records is a very sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police,” Curry concluded. “We are being friendly but firm.”

At the bottom of the typed letter is a handwritten message from Mahony. “We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever,” he scrawled on the page, initializing it with “RMM.”

He underlined “cannot” for extra emphasis.

None of the archdiocese officials were ever charged with obstruction of justice.

Police eventually got the altar boy list, with no help from the archdiocese. Investigators learned the extent of Aguilar-Rivera’s alleged crimes by interviewing boys ranging in age from about 9 to 13.

In all, police said, 26 boys were molested in just nine months, many of them repeatedly. Aguilar-Rivera would eventually be charged in a felony complaint relating to 10 boys, with 19 counts of committing a lewd act with a child.

A Los Angeles Times reporter asked the archdiocese for comment at the time; its public statement stands in direct contrast to what the newly released documents reveal. “He was asked to stay in the country to face the accusations against him, but he chose to leave,” said Joseph Battaglia, the spokesman for the archdiocese.

In the article, police said the church was being less than forthcoming with investigators; a father of two of the alleged victims said simply, “The church shouldn’t be telling lies.”

With the allegations now in the open, the tone of archdiocese officials shifted. Three days later, Curry wrote Aguilar-Rivera’s bishop in Mexico and included a copy of the Los Angeles Times’ story.

“May I request that if you know of the whereabouts of Father Aguilar-Rivera,” Curry said, “you urge him most strongly to return here to answer the allegations that have been made against him.”

While on  the run, Aguilar-Rivera even called the home of one of the boys he allegedly molested.

“Don’t you know everybody is looking for you?” the mother said, according to a March 11, 1988, memo.

“For what?” Aguilar-Rivera responded.

Aguilar-Rivera would remain in the priesthood in Mexico – for another 21 years. He would be dogged of more molestation allegations while there.

A civil suit filed in the United States in 2010 by a Mexican citizen alleged Aguilar-Rivera raped him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Mexico. The suit alleges Mahony and a Mexican cardinal conspired to hide Aguilar-Rivera between the two countries with full knowledge of his alleged pedophilia, putting an untold number of children at risk. Mahony has denied the allegations.

Aguilar-Rivera was convicted in Mexico in 2003 of a misdemeanor sex abuse charge, but was allowed to walk free while the case was under appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News.

He remains on Mexico’s federal prosecutor’s Most Want List wanted on charges of rape and indecent assault.

Aguilar-Rivera was finally stripped of his duties in 2009 by the Vatican, which approved his removal from “clerical state, a priest who has been accused of the sexual abuse of minors in Mexico and the United States,” the Catholic News Agency reported on July 31, 2009.

Attorney De Marco said it’s disgusting church authorities did nothing to stop him.

“He was able to walk around with the authority of the collar in a country where that authority carries more significance than it does here,” De Marco said. “How could anyone ever justify that 21-year delay? This man molested 26 children in nine months in the United States. How many more were there over 21 years?”

Aguilar-Rivera, now 71, is believed to be alive, a free man in Mexico.

Mahony prays for humiliation

Mahony, who turns 77 next week, was appointed archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II in 1985, overseeing the archdiocese until 2011 when he retired. In 1991, he became a cardinal, the highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope.

McKiernan, who launched BishopAccountability.org in 2003 to keep track of the widespread church abuse, said the recently released documents show the scope and magnitude of Mahony’s and Curry’s efforts in “intentionally evading the authorities.”

“We didn’t have evidence of that before. It’s actually more stark,” he said. “You can tell from these documents Mahony was trying to keep abused priests away from police. ­… The document record is a disgraceful one.”

Curry stepped down earlier this month as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and “publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as vicar for clergy,” archbishop Gomez said in announcing the resignation.

Mahony has said he has long acknowledged mistakes in the 1980s and that he improved the reporting mechanisms of priestly abuse in the years that followed.

He has recently taken to his personal blog, scribing an array of posts about praying for humiliation.

“… I am for the first time realizing that I should be praying for the very things from which I cringe, the disgrace I abhor, the fool that I seem,” he blogged on February 15.

In a post this week, he asked followers for “your prayers and your encouragements in my own life to handle all of my mistakes, omissions, and commissions as God asks, and as Jesus and Mary lived out: to take in what swirls around me, to hold it, to carry it, to transform it and to give it back as grace, blessing and gift.”

De Marco, the attorney conducting the deposition, said Mahony should feel one emotion far greater than humiliation: shame.

Amid calls for Mahony to not travel to Rome, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles remains steadfast in its support of his trip, saying canon law dictates that he attend.

Catholics United, a liberal-leaning group that pushes for social justice within the church, and SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said they delivered a petition with close to 10,000 signatures to Saint Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood on Saturday, asking for Mahony not to attend the conclave.

“His participation in the conclave would only bring clouds of shame at a time that should bring springs of hope. Cardinal Mahony, please, stay home,” said Chris Pumpelly, Catholics United’s communications director.

There is no indication he will.

– CNN Belef Blog

Cardinal Roger Mahony: I Forgive Those Who Are Angry at Me for Covering Up Child Rape


Cardinal Roger Mahony: I Forgive Those Who Are Angry at Me for Covering Up Child Rape

February 17, 2013  By Hemant Mehta

From the link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/02/17/cardinal-roger-mahony-i-forgive-those-who-are-angry-at-me-for-covering-up-child-rape/

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the man who appears to have shielded child-molesting priests for the sake of Catholicism, wrote about humiliation on his personal website.

But instead of talking about the things he’s done wrong, he flipped it around and threw it back on the victims of his purported crimes and those who rally behind them:

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated.  In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people.  I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage — at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

As if they’re the ones who need to be forgiven.

As if he’s the good guy for being so humble as to think of them.

As if he’s the one humiliated but not the victims of the scandal he helped cover up.

As if he had nothing to do with their frustrations and rage against the Catholic Church.

There’s a lot of talk lately about how out of touch the Catholic Church and its leaders are… but rarely are the examples so clear-cut.

Cardinal Mahony ‘unflappable’ in deposition on priest abuse cases


Cardinal Mahony ‘unflappable’ in deposition on priest abuse cases

February 23, 2013 |  3:08 pm

From the link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/cardinal-roger-mahony-deposition-priest-abuse.html

A “relatively unflappable” Cardinal Roger Mahony answered questions under oath for more than 3 1/2 hours Saturday about his handling of clergy sex abuse cases, according to the lawyer who questioned the former archbishop.

“He remained calm and seemingly collected at all times,” said attorney Anthony De Marco, who represents a man suing the Los Angeles Archdiocese over abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of a priest who visited his parish in 1987.

Mahony has been deposed many times in the past, but Saturday’s session was the first time he had been asked about recently released internal church records that show he shielded abusers from law enforcement.

De Marco declined to detail the questions he asked or the answers the cardinal provided, citing a judge’s protective order.

The deposition occurred just before Mahony was to board a plane for Italy to vote in the conclave that will elect the next pope. In a Twitter post Friday, Mahony wrote that it was “just a few short hours before my departure for Rome.”

Church officials did not return requests for comment.

The case, set for trial in April, concerns a Mexican priest, Nicholas Aguilar Rivera. Authorities believe he molested at least 26 children during a nine-month stay in Los Angeles.

Recently released church files show Aguilar Rivera fled to Mexico after a top Mahony aide, Thomas Curry, warned him that parents were likely to go the police and that he was in “a good deal of danger.” Aguilar Rivera remains a fugitive in Mexico.

The archdiocese had agreed Mahony could be questioned for four hours about the Aguilar Rivera case and 25 other priests accused in the same period. De Marco said he did not get to ask everything he wanted and would seek additional time after the cardinal returned from the Vatican.

Past depositions of Mahony have eventually become public, and De Marco said he would follow court procedures to seek the release of a transcript of Saturday’s deposition.