Retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has been stripped of his official duties in an unusual public rebuke by his successor that followed the release of thousands of pages of internal church documents showing how the Roman Catholic leader and aides for years conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

The current archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez, also announced late Thursday that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, a longtime aide to Mahony who was deeply involved in the cover-up, had resigned his position overseeing the Santa Barbara region.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil," Gomez said in a statement.

Gomez issued his statement after the archdiocese lost a long legal battle and posted on its website personnel files for 122 priests who were accused of molesting children.

"There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children," Gomez said. "The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed."

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI named Gomez to replace the embattled Mahony atop the nation's largest Catholic diocese.

Gomez noted that Mahony had apologized for his role in concealing the abuse and allowing it to continue, but he indicated that was not sufficient – and that he ordered Mahony's removal from public ministry.

"Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties," Gomez said. He added that Curry had requested to resign.

"This is unusual and extraordinary," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist at ...

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