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LA Catholic Archdiocese Releases Priest Abuse Files

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(Reuters) - After years of legal battles, the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Thursday released the files of priests accused of molesting children and removed a senior clergyman who had been linked to efforts to conceal the abuse.

The archdiocese also said the clergyman's former top aide had stepped down.

"The 2013 public release of the files of clergy who were subject of the 2007 global settlement concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church," the archdiocese said in a statement.

The files containing thousands of pages were made public more than a week after church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed as part of a separate civil suit, showing that church officials plotted to conceal the molestations from law enforcement as late as 1987.

Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement that he had informed his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, that he was barred from any future administrative or public duties in the church.

Additionally, Gomez said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry had stepped down as regional bishop of Santa Barbara.

Mahony and Curry, his top adviser, both worked to send priests accused of abuse out of state to shield known molesters in the clergy from law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s, the files released previously showed.

"To every victim of child sexual abuse by a member of our Church: I want to help you in your healing. I am profoundly sorry for these sins against you," Gomez said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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