November 17, 2005

Trail of Abuse Leads to Seminary

CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles Times

By Paul Pringle, Times Staff Writer

Any examination of the sexual abuse crisis afflicting the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles leads inevitably to a bell-towered campus in the rolling hills of Camarillo: St. John's Seminary.

The 66-year-old institution has trained hundreds of clerics for the archdiocese and smaller jurisdictions across Southern California and beyond. It is the alma mater of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod Brown and other prominent prelates. Former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, now the Vatican's chief enforcer of doctrine, taught at the school.

But St. John's, the only seminary operated by the archdiocese, also has produced a disproportionate number of alleged sexual abusers as it prepared men for a life of ministry and celibacy, records show.

About 10% of St. John's graduates reported to have been ordained in the Los Angeles Archdiocese since 1950 65 of roughly 625 have been accused of molesting minors, according to a review of ordination announcements, lawsuits, published reports and the archdiocese's 2004 list of alleged abusers. In two classes 1966 and 1972 a third of the graduates were later accused of molestation.

The St. John's figures are much higher than the nationwide rate of alleged molesters in the American priesthood, as calculated by a church-commissioned survey. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study found that 4% of priests and deacons between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of abuse.

Posted by kshaw at November 17, 2005 11:22 AM