NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — As they filed out of Sunday mass, parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood were met by protesters handing out fliers and holding signs demanding former Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony resign as cardinal. They also want the state to open a criminal investigation into his handling of allegations of child sex abuse dating back decades.
“We want the attorney general to start an investigation on criminal behavior of Mahony,” said Elias Chavando, a member of the group Clean The Church.
“According to documents released in 2013, as part of a $600 million settlement the L.A. archdioceses paid to over 500 victims we learned that Mahony aided and abetted pedophile, child abusive priests for years,” the group says on its website.
“Mahony knowingly harbored, concealed or aided many criminals. He knew of their crimes. He knew of their victims. Instead of calling the police, he manipulated information, moved these criminals from parish to parish and allowed the crimes to continue under their watch.”
At a minimum, the group wants Mahony to resign as cardinal. He is retired, but the archdiocese says he sometimes fills in at churches across L.A.
“To see Cardinal Mahony start giving mass again has infuriated me and many of my friends,” said protester Colleen Coffey.
“People will avoid going to get in line when he passes out communion,” said parishioner Marty Valdez.
On Sunday, some churchgoers refused to talk about the scandal, but Valdez became emotional talking about her son’s role in all this. He went to school with some of the victims.
“My biggest loss is that he lost his faith, and that is what hurts,” Valdez said as she held back tears. “Thoughts and prayers anywhere are not enough.”
Mahony has admitted to failing to call police despite knowing about the sexual abuse, saying in a deposition, “Back then, that isn’t the way these matters were approached.” That was back then. This is now.
The archdiocese has since instituted a zero-tolerance policy towards abuse.
“In this day and age, our church has very strict policies,” said the archdiocese’s Carolina Guevara. “When a report comes in, they’re immediately reported to the police.”
Last month, a grand jury report was released, which detailed how church officials in Pennsylvania covered up the abuse of over 1,000 children by some 300 pedophile priests. One Pittsburgh priest included in the report, Rev. Ed Paone, avoided arrest and was subsequently transferred to several parishes in the L.A. area, including one in Diamond Bar.
Demonstrators said they plan to continue their protests, saying they’re trying to help heal, not hurt, the church.