LA Cardinal Mahony shielded sexual predators within the Catholic Church
New documents show damage control trumped private pain of victims
For decades, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other high ranking members of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles made secret efforts to shield child molesting priests. Their aim was to keep their parishioners in the dark and control the damage to the church, church personnel files have revealed.
According to the Daily Mail, previously confidential records filed in a lawsuit against the archdiocese disclose how the church handled abuse allegations for decades. They also reveal that a top Mahony aide criticized his superiors for covering up all the allegations of abuse, rather than protecting children and alerting the authorities.
Notes signed by Mahony demonstrate that he was disturbed about abuse cases being reported to him and that he sent accused priests for treatment, but psychological reports that he received on some priests mention the possibility of many other victims, and there is no indication he or other church leaders investigated them.
'This is all intolerable and unacceptable to me,' Mahony reportedly wrote in 1991 on a file concerning Reverend Lynn Caffoe, a priest suspected of locking boys in his room where he videotaped their crotches. He also ran up a $100 phone sex bill while with a boy.
Caffoe was sent for therapy and removed from ministry, but Mahony didn't actually move to defrock him until 2004, a full decade after the archdiocese lost track of him.
'He is a fugitive from justice,' Mahony wrote to the Vatican's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI. 'A check of the Social Security index discloses no report of his demise, so presumably he is alive somewhere.'
Caffoe died in 2009, six years after a newspaper reporter found him working at a homeless mission two blocks from a Salinas elementary school.
Mahony released a statement on Monday apologizing for his mistakes and saying he had been 'naïve' about the lasting impacts of abuse. Reporters were told he was out of town and unable to make further statements.
Mahony has reportedly met with 90 abuse victims privately and keeps an index card with each victim's name in his private chapel, where he prays for them daily. The card also includes the names of the molesting priests 'lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm.'
Mahony inherited a list of offending priests from his predecessor when he took over in 1985, J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney, told the Daily Mail. Hennigan added that priests were sent out of state for psychological treatment because therapists were not required to report their child abuse offenses to law enforcement as they were in California, he said.
The files reveal that one priest victimized the children of illegal immigrants and then threatened to have them all deported if they told authorities.
When Reverend Nicholas Aguilar Rivera molested in LA, the files allege, church officials waited two days to call police, allowing him to flee to Mexico. At least 26 children told police they had been abused during his ten months in Los Angeles. The now-defrocked priest is believed to live in Mexico and remains a fugitive from law enforcement.
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