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LA Cardinal calls sex abuse scandal a 'purification'

In reaction to the widening sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the US Catholic Church, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles told more than 300 priests and 700 parishioners at last week's chrism Mass that "the church and the priesthood are undergoing an incredible purification."

The cardinal reiterated his responsibility to "protect all members of the people of God from any misconduct or abuse" and committed himself to exhausting all energy to "not only correct any possible lingering problems here in Los Angeles, but to make certain that the church across the country responds with swift action."

In previous statements, Cardinal Mahony has assured the public that the archdiocese has been cooperating with various law enforcement agencies over investigations of abuse and that it has zero tolerance for priests found guilty of such abuse.

Responding to the pressure to name the priests recently dismissed by the archdiocese as a result of that policy, the cardinal said that the majority of those cases go back so many years that identifying the abusers might only inflict further harm on victims.

"The last thing victims want is to be re-victimized all over again ... and I will not permit further harm or exploitation to occur," he said.

"I will bend over backwards to protect those victims," the cardinal later told reporters after the Mass. "They are free to come forward but I feel I am not."

As for current or active cases, Cardinal Mahony said the archdiocese follows a strict policy of full disclosure wherein parish staff, parishioners, school personnel and law enforcement agencies are notified of the allegation and the accused priest, deacon or lay minister is identified.

Cardinal Mahony's Chrism Mass Homily
Archdiocese of Los Angeles


2 Apr 2002