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Archdiocese leader apologizes for abuse

By Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger Mahony, leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, apologized Sunday to the hundreds of people who will get a share of a $660 million settlement over allegations of clergy sex abuse.

“There really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them. ... The one thing I wish I could give the victims, I cannot,” he said.

“Once again, I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused. ... It should not have happened and should not ever happen again.”

Mahony said that he has met in the past 14 months with dozens of people alleging clergy abuse and that those meetings helped him understand the importance of a quick resolution to what he called a “terrible sin and crime.”

The settlement will not affect the archdiocese’s core ministry, Mahony said, but the church will have to sell buildings, use some of its invested funds and borrow money. The archdiocese will not sell any parish property, he said.

“We gather today because this long journey has now come to an end, and a new chapter of that journey is beginning,” Mahony told reporters.

The deal between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and more than 500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse reached late Saturday is by far the largest payout since the nationwide clergy abuse scandal emerged in 2002 in Boston.

The settlement also calls for the release of priests’ confidential personnel files after review by a judge. According to Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese, the settlement had not required Mahony to make his public apology.

Earlier Sunday, Mahony presided over Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles without directly addressing the settlement.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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