Church Treated Rule Violations More Seriously Than Abuse

LA Times reports on newly released personnel files of priests

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 2, 2013 8:43 AM CST

(Newser) – Priests sexually abusing boys and girls? Tut-tut. Priests performing baptisms without permission? Oh, the horror! Sad, but true: The Catholic Church often treated "ecclesiastical missteps" more seriously than reports of priestly abuse, reports the Los Angeles Times, which has been poring over the local archdiocese's newly released personnel files. (The files themselves are on the diocese website here.) In one instance, a priest found to have been abusing minors for two decades faced excommunication only after he performed the sacrament of confession improperly on a victim.

Two other items of note in the Times story:

  • Cover-up fail: A Catholic organization that treated abusive priests implored the diocese in 1988: "Once more, we ask you to PLEASE DESTROY THESE PAGES AND ANY OTHER MATERIAL YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM US. This is stated for your own and our legal protection." Cardinal Mahony ignored the advice.
  • Snow White: Because the diocese didn't destroy the therapy records, we learn of this admission from a priest accused of molesting an eight-grade girl: "She dressed as Snow White. … I had a crush on Snow White, so I started to open myself up to her." His psychologist expressed concern to church officials that the abuse had not been reported to police, to no avail.

Esther Miller holds newly released files of her abuser, the Rev. Deacon Michael Nocita, seen in middle picture, outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Friday.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Frank Zamora, 67, holds an old photo of his son Dominic Zamora, then 8, sitting on the lap of his abuser, priest Michael Stephen Baker, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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