Every morning I wake up thinking I’ll soon run out of news stories to highlight on Incongruent Elements. Every morning I’m wrong.
Good grief. These church folk are going to have to slow down their shenanigans… eventually… right?
Today’s not that day.
This morning I awoke to this:
Fifteen years before the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light, Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top advisor plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement, including keeping them out of California to avoid prosecution, 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 priests presented “proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests” who had admitted to abusing young boys. The abuse appears to be wide spread and long term.
One such case that has previously received little attention is that of Msgr. Peter Garcia, who admitted preying for decades on undocumented children in predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes. After Garcia’s discharge from a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy, Mahony ordered him to stay away from California “for the foreseeable future” in order to avoid legal accountability, the files show. “I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors,” the archbishop wrote to the treatment center’s director in July 1986.
Some of the priests have apologized, however.
Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized repeatedly for errors in handling abuse allegations. In a statement Monday, he apologized once again and recounted meetings he’s had with about 90 victims of abuse.
“I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day,” he wrote. “As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story.”
“It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing,” he added. “I am sorry.”