The Archdiocese of Los Angeles posted files concerning child-abusing priests on its website—more than 12,000 pages of documents—after being order to do so by the Federal Court.
In a letter to the faithful, Archbishop Jose Gomez addressed the release of documents, and the failures of his predecessors to protect the children of the parish. Archbishop Gomez veered widely from the standard Church language by acknowledging “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.”
However, the National Catholic Reporter is not satisfied with the response, taking Archbishop Gomez to task in an editorial decrying his “we didn’t know” defense. Some within the clergy are also not satisfied, and are speaking up on behalf of saddened, disillusioned parishioners.
The release of these files demonstrates that the tragedy here is manifold.
It is tragic for the victims of abuse and their families. But, it is also tragic for all the faithful that the institution of the church showed great concern for protecting the institution qua institution — and no concern for protecting the very people that the church exists to nurture, guide, and protect.
The files can be found here, cataloged alphabetically by priest’s name at the bottom of the page. There is also a chart that shows the timing of each child abuse claim by date, and under which church administration. These files, while difficult to read, evince the decades-long active cover-up of child abuse by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
The few pages I’ve read leave me gravely concerned about trusting any institution with the care of our children. Sadly, evil can take root even where only good has been planted. But worse occurred here: the clergy did not simply turn a blind eye, or hope for the best. Instead, the clergy actively participated in covering up allegations of abuse. In some instances, that cover-up allowed abuse to continue for years, if not decades, longer than would have otherwise been the case.
In so doing, the Church put protecting its image above protecting its children.