- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

LOS ANGELES (Agence France-Presse) The head of the United States' largest Catholic diocese apologized yesterday to victims of priestly sex abuse and asked forgiveness for "not understanding earlier the extent of the problem."
In a pastoral letter read during mass in a Hollywood church, Cardinal Roger Mahony said he regretted not taking tougher action to tackle the scourge that has shaken the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.
"I ask for your forgiveness for not understanding earlier the extent of the problem, and for not taking swifter action to remove from the ministry anyone who had abused a minor in the past," the archbishop of Los Angeles said.
"I also deeply apologize to you, the members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and especially to the victims of clergy sexual abuse," he said.
"This crisis has caused me many sleepless nights filled with concern for the victims, as well as sadness and anger toward those priests who have preyed upon the most vulnerable among us our children."
The letter was to be read in English and Spanish at all masses in the 287 parishes of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
Cardinal Mahony was a key player at the conference of U.S. Catholic bishops in Dallas this month. The session was called to discuss the crisis and implement a "zero tolerance" policy for clerical abusers.
He said in the letter that he was deeply moved by the personal witness and the testimony he heard from victims of clergy abuse at the conference.
"Their insight helped me and the other bishops develop and approve a stronger national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," he said.
Cardinal Mahony said the zero-tolerance policy in effect in his archdiocese was among the strongest and most comprehensive in the nation and that several measures implemented here had been included in the bishops' final document.


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