LOS ANGELES - One day after the release of personnel files of priests accused of sexual misconduct, victims of clergy abuse will push the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles Friday to continue investigating the problem.
The diocese on Thursday released files on more than 100 clergy members, and Archbishop Jose Gomez said his predecessor -- former Archbishop Roger Mahony -- will "no longer have any administrative or public duties." Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, Mahony's former top adviser on sex-abuse issues, stepped down as Santa Barbara's regional bishop.
"We suggest that Bishop Gomez do more from here and not treat what happened yesterday as the end of the line on this," Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, told City News Service. "We want him to help support more police investigations into sexual abuse. For us, this is the beginning, not the end."
Casteix and other SNAP members and their supporters held news conference outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to discuss the issue, insisting that it was only through legal action and continued pressure by victims that the church finally took action.
Gomez noted Thursday that diocese officials have apologized for actions of the past and taken wide-ranging steps to prevent abuse and report it quickly if it does occur.
The files released Thursday included the names of priests, culminating years of legal wrangling over whether names should be redacted from the paperwork.
"The 2013 public release of the files of clergy who were subject of the 2007 global settlement concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church," according to a diocese statement announcing the release of the files. "In the 2004 Report to the People of God and elsewhere, the archdiocese acknowledged and apologized for failing to treat victims of abuse with compassion, as well as for employing what we now know to be inadequate standards for treatment and supervision of priests who were found to have abused children and young people."
According to the diocese's website, 124 files were released, with 82 containing information on allegations of childhood sexual abuse. The remaining files contain "proffers," which are summaries compiled in anticipation of litigation.
The files, which contain roughly 12,000 pages, were made available online at http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org.
A Los Angeles judge had originally ruled that the diocese could redact the name of priests and church leaders from the personnel files, but that decision was later reversed by a different judge. Despite some last-minute legal jockeying, the diocese agreed to include names in the files.
The diocese released them within hours of that decision.
The diocese reached a $660 million settlement in 2007 with about 500 alleged victims. As part of that settlement, the diocese agreed to release the personnel files of clergy accused of abuse.
Some of the files were released last week in connection with a separate civil case. That paperwork showed evidence of Mahony and Curry discussing ways to prevent law enforcement from learning about molestations of children more than a decade before the abuses became public knowledge.
Gomez issued a statement saying that while the files document abuses that occurred decades ago, "that does not make them less serious."
"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," he said. "The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed."