The largest U.S. Roman Catholic archdiocese has complied with a court order to release the files of clergy accused of molesting children, bringing to light details which the church says many will find "troubling and upsetting."
The release of the files by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on its website complies with a 2011 order by a California judge. In 2007, the archdiocese reached a settlement paying hundreds of millions of dollars to individuals who suffered abuse at the hands of priests and bishops over decades.
"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in a letter to his parish. "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."
Archbishop Gomez, who assumed his role in 2011, said his predecessor, the retired Cardinal Roger Mahony "has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care."
The archbishop said he had informed Cardinal Mahony he would no longer have any administrative or public duties. He also said he accepted the request a regional bishop, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry to be relieved of his responsibility.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests issued a statement after the release of the documents, stating that Bishop Curry's departure was a "step in the right direction" but added that Cardinal Mohony's punishment was a "nearly meaningless gesture."
"Bishop Thomas Curry stepping down is a small, belated step in the right direction, though it's obviously only being done because the horrific extent of his complicity is about to become publicly known. He should have been fired long ago," SNAP in a statement.
The network said that while several bishops around the world had stepped down over abuses cases, it would be more powerful if the Pope or other high ranking church officials would force out their colleagues.
On Mahony's the group said, "When he had real power, and abused it horribly, he should have been demoted or disciplined by the church hierarchy, in Rome and in the U.S."
The files refer to 192 priests and bishops named in litigation settled in 2007.
In 2004, the archdiocese issued a report with the names of priests publicly accused of abuse, and those who were found to have committed abuse.
"Though the additional information provided with the release of personnel files fits within the overall framework of the 2004 Report, and are themselves frequently decades-old, many will find the specific details contained within them to be troubling and upsetting," the Archdiocese said on the website listing the files.
The files refer to cases involving priests and bishops mostly from the 1950s to the 1990s. However cases stretch as far back as 1931.
The names of victims and third parties were redacted and obscured but there are numerous detailed letters and memos included.
The archdiocese said that in the case of 62 individuals mentioned in the 2007 litigation, it had no file or the party was exonerated and the files were not to be produced.
There were about 562 plaintiffs, 419 boys and 143 girls, who were victims of clergy sexual abuse at the hands of archdiocese priests, according to a 2010 state court order requiring the release of the files.