SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A top US Catholic archbishop and another church official have tried to keep police from discovering that priests were engaged in sexually abusing children, newly released records show.
Archbishop Roger Mahony and his top advisor on sex abuse cases, Thomas Curry, “plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement,” including measures to keep the abusing priests away from California to avert legal prosecution,The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday.
Although the failure of the church to remove its pedophile clergy as well as its unwillingness to cooperate with legal authorities have already been established in the past, internal Catholic Church documents from the late 1980’s, released Monday, demonstrate “the strongest evidence yet” of a rigorous bid by top authorities of the largest Catholic diocese in the US to protect child-abusing priest from the American law-enforcement, the report says.
According to the report, the newly released documents, which the Catholic Church has tried to keep secret for years, unveil statements by church leaders reflecting their desire to conceal child molestation by its priests from US authorities.
Confidential letters filed this month as evidence in a civil court case, the report adds, show that Curry “proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys.”
One such case involved a priest named Peter Garcia, who had admitted to “preying for decades on undocumented children in predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes.”
Citing the newly released files, the report further notes that following Garcia's release from “a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy,” Mahony ordered him to keep his distance from California "for the foreseeable future" in a bid to evade “legal accountability.”
"I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors," the archbishop is quoted as writing to the treatment center's director in July 1986.
Garcia returned to California later that year although the archdiocese did not give him ministerial duty since he “refused to take medication to suppress his sexual urges,” according to church documents cited in the report.
It adds that Garcia was never prosecuted and died in 2009.
The files, however, show that he admitted to a therapist that he had sexually abused boys "on and off" since his 1966 ordination.
“He assured church officials his victims were unlikely to come forward because of their immigration status. In at least one case, according to a church memo, he threatened to have a boy he had raped deported if he went to police,” the report further states.
According to the daily, an attorney for the Catholic church, Michael Hennigan, described the newly unveiled documents as “part of the past,” claiming that the church’s policy in the late 1980’s was to let the families of the victims decide whether to contact the police or not.
The report further adds that in the coming weeks, personnel files of 75 other Los Angeles area Catholic priests will be released as part of a 2007 civil settlement with 500 abuse victims.