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Archbishop's letter on sex abuse read in Los Angeles churches

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 9:22 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — Roman Catholic parishioners in the Los Angeles area heard a letter from Archbishop Jose Gomez in which he described newly released files on clergy sex abuse as “terribly sad and evil.”

Church leaders read the archbishop's words at Sunday Mass across the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which extends into Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the Los Angeles Times reported. The letter, addressed to “My brothers and sisters in Christ,” was made public last week.

Gomez said the church needs to acknowledge the “terrible failure” of its handling of abuse cases.

At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, parishioner Eric Nielsen praised Gomez for addressing the issue in such a prominent way.

“I take my hat off to the archbishop,” said Nielsen, 52. “He got on the ball and did what needed to be done.”

Nielsen said he probably would stop attending the church, where he has worshipped since 1981, because he was upset by the scandal.

“It's a shame,” he said.

On Thursday, Gomez stripped his predecessor Cardinal Roger Mahony of his administrative duties for failing to take swift action against abusive priests.

Gomez's rebuke and Mahony's public response were unprecedented because they revealed infighting between two highly placed church leaders in a Roman Catholic hierarchy that rarely break ranks publicly.

In his letter, Gomez described the latest records to be made public as “brutal and painful reading.”

“The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” Gomez wrote. “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”

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