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New documents detail abuse cover-up in L.A.

Newly released documents detailing how far church leaders in Los Angeles went to conceal clergy sexual abuse in the late 1980s help fill in the story of the scandal and how it developed at the highest level of the nation's largest diocese. As reported in the Los Angeles Times:

Fifteen years before the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light, Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top advisor discussed ways to conceal the molestation of children from law enforcement, according to internal Catholic church records released Monday.The archdiocese's failure to purge pedophile clergy and reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement has previously been known. But the memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese's chief advisor on sex abuse cases, offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation's largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police. The newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in church leaders' own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being molested.

The documents also show that in addition to hiding cases from police, an effort was made to avoid having predatory priests get counseling within the state because the California therapists would need to report the abuse to authorities. These scenes from internal records of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles offer further evidence that a coverup was orchestrated at high levels of the church. There is no sense that Mahony and his vicar were misled by therapists. They knew the abusive priests' conduct was criminal. They may not have known the full scope of the sexual abuse that existed, but they knew it was a gigantic problem and sought to keep it secret.Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles had conducted a grand jury investigation into the way officials in the archdiocese handled allegations of clergy sexual abuse. According to news reports in 2009, they were investigating whether the federal "honest services" law was violated. The theory was that a crime may have been committed if church officials were dishonest in their dealings with the Catholic faithful - that they defrauded Catholics of their "honest services." No charges were brought; the following year, the U.S. Supreme Court put some major restrictions on prosecutors' use of the "honest services" law.These documents surfaced in a civil suit, with more to come.


Commenting Guidelines

"SOL reform with window legislation would open more files to the truth than I can imagine."Unjustly.

Carolyn --Oops -- I see that all sorts of evidence of Avery's guilt apart from his own admission to the Court. Satill, I'm still wondering, though -- the quotations in the documents are not direct testimony in Court. Given Avery's retraction, could that cause a mistrial? I hope not.

Jim P,I recall old exchanges and I'm smiling because I even thought of you as I wrote that. Different opinions, alas.

I was quite surprised by the recent Pew report that said that a large majority of Catholics are "satisfied" with the hierarchy. Where have these people been the last 30 years, I kept wondering. But maybe the L.A. documents are starting finally to convince them of the criminality of some of the bishops. Here's one indication. The extremely conservative New Advent aggregator of Catholic news sites directs us today to The Bad Catholic Blog for Bingo Catholics -- a self-described conservative one. The BCB post is titled, "I'd Like to Visit Cardinal Mahoney in Prison". The writer is now finally completely convinced that the Cardinal belongs in Alcatraz. Let us pray that more eyes are finally being opened., I read some conservative sources. Only fair.)

I read some conservative blogs too. Especially daunting is the UK Catholic Herald ...

Ann Olivier:Conservative, traditionalist voices have always judged Cardinal Mahony as too tolerant of "dissent." Recall Mother Angelica's fierce criticisms of him on EWTN fifteen or more years ago. (Cardinal Mahony took that to Rome, and won.) And, when the East Coast cardinals attacked Cardinal Bernardin for launching the Common Ground Initiative, Cardinal Mahony tellingly did not join them. I have always found the Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles something of an enigma.

"I recall old exchanges and Im smiling because I even thought of you as I wrote that. Different opinions, alas."Quite right :-)

Jim Jenkins (1/23/13 @ 5:36 pm), you speak for me!Ann Olivier, I'm not surprised that Pew would find a large majority of Catholics "satisfied" with the hierarchy: I'm of the impression, at least, that most (still) churchgoing Catholics have not a clue about papal and episcopal shenanigans. They don't care. They don't know what's going on and don't want to know what's going on. They may or may not read their local *sanitized* Catholic newspapers. Show up at weekend mass, get your ticket punched, and leave. These folks are pew potatoes. Perhaps it's a matter of Pew conducting a valid survey, only to discover the respondents represent a homogeneous group? Sure seems like it.

John Page ==Maybe he doesn't really care about anything, except his own retention of power. There are such people.

Carolyn--What moral equivalence do you think I'm making?