In a scene no doubt hauntingly familiar to many Philadelphians, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles on Monday apologized for mishandling sex abuse allegations that emerged in the archdiocese between 1986 and 1997. Newly released documents from that era show Mahony and other officials made a “concerted effort” to keep police from finding out children had been abused by priests.
Mahony released a statement, which read in part:
Various steps toward safeguarding all children in the Church began here in 1987 and progressed year by year as we learned more about those who abused and the ineffectiveness of so-called “treatments” at the time. Nonetheless, even as we began to confront the problem, I remained naïve myself about the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have on the lives of those who were abused by men who were supposed to be their spiritual guides. That fuller awareness came for me when I began visiting personally with victims. During 2006, 2007 and 2008, I held personal visits with some 90 such victims.
Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal apology — and took full responsibility — for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted into my care. I apologized for all of us in the Church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the Church — and even the clergy perpetrators — than was done to protect our children.
I am sorry.
Mahony retired in 2011. The files of at least 75 more victims will become public in coming weeks, under the terms of a settlement with 500 victims in 2007. [Los Angeles Times]