May 19, 2005

Many Want Disclosures in O.C. Diocese Emulated

Los Angeles Times

By William Lobdell and Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writers

As the faithful try to absorb painful revelations from newly released church documents about Orange County priests who sexually abused children, some national Roman Catholic leaders are renewing pleas that all U.S. bishops, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, make public the files of other priests accused in the national scandal.

"What really concerns me is, instead of really disclosing what has taken place and having the church be transparent here is this continuing fight to protect against disclosure, and in the end it hurts the church that much more," said Leon Panetta, who was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton and later served on the U.S. bishops' national review board that investigated sexual abuse by clergy.

"There wasn't just one Cardinal [Bernard] Law in this country," added Panetta, referring to the Boston prelate who resigned in 2002 after documents showed that he had protected serial molesters. "There were others doing the same thing shifting around people and ignoring the threat they posed."

Justice Anne M. Burke of the Illinois Appellate Court, who served on the same bishops' review board, also called for the release of such files nationwide. "I urge them not to fight this anymore," she said. "Release the documents, say you're sorry, and move forward so this will never happen again."

More than 10,000 documents about Orange County cases were made public Tuesday as part of a $100-million settlement reached in December with 90 alleged victims. The files from accused priests show that top diocesan officials in Orange County kept known molesters in churches with no warning to parishioners, ignored allegations of sexual abuse and failed to report the criminal acts to police.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2005 04:14 AM