US archbishop releases abuse records, strips cardinal

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The archbishop of Los Angeles stripped his predecessor of all church duties on Thursday as he released files on more than 100 clerics, as required under a 2007 lawsuit deal over alleged sex abuse.

Archbishop Jose Gomez said retired Cardinal Roger Mahony will "no longer have any administrative or public duties," while Mahony's former top adviser on sex-abuse issues, Thomas Curry, has stepped down as a regional bishop.

"These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious," he wrote, releasing the personnel files online after prolonged wrangling over whether the names should be blanked out.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behaviour 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," Gomez added. "We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today."

Early this year, a judge ordered Catholic leaders in Los Angeles to identify senior church officials accused of sexually abusing children, in a move welcomed by campaigners for victims.

The LA archdiocese, the biggest in the United States, said that "much of the information in question has already been made public" in a 2004 "Report to the People of God" and subsequent documents.

In his letter accompanying the newly released documents, Gomez noted that Mahony has expressed regret for failing to protect youths in his care.

"Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties," Gomez said, adding that he had accepted Curry's resignation as bishop for Santa Barbara, north of Los Angeles.

"We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the Church. And we need to continue to support the long and painful process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken," he said.

"I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages.

Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience I've had since becoming your archbishop in 2011."

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