Catholic religious orders will soon release confidential files about priests accused of sex abuse who were assigned to work in Los Angeles, fulfilling part of a settlement agreement with victims.
The files involve orders including the Salesians, Vincentians and Marianists and will begin to be released as early as June. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias set a September deadline for the public release of the documents.
Victims’ attorney Raymond Boucher told the judge that most orders came forward “with a positive attitude,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “We want to get this behind us,” Boucher said, adding that the first records release could happen in three weeks.
The files are distinct from those of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which released 12,000 pages of abuse-related documents several months ago.
On Jan. 31, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez announced that with the release of personnel files of priests accused decades ago of sexual abuse, his predecessor, the retired Cardinal Mahony, and his one-time vicar for clergy, Bishop Thomas Curry, would no longer have official duties in the archdiocese.
The files showed that in the late 1980s, Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry, who was then vicar of clergy, corresponded often about dealing with priests who had sexually abused minors. The Los Angeles Times said the memos show a campaign to hide sex abuse cases from police.
“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading...We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today. We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the Church,” Archbishop Gomez said at the time.
The decision to remove Cardinal Mahoney of his official duties has been roundly welcomed from local Catholics as well as the Church throughout America. In a February interview with CNA, Los Angeles-based author and historian Charles Colombe hailed the archbishop's move as “the best possible thing he could have done.”