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The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay 508 plaintiffs $660 million for abuse they suffered at the hands of Catholic clergy dating back decades. The settlement is the largest priest abuse settlement since the sexual abuse scandal broke in Boston in 2002. However, this by no means bankrupts the church in Los Angelese. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has real estate holdings worth an estimated $4 billion. Besides the amount of the settlement, there are important facts to be learned from this tragedy in Los Angeles. First, those who were abused by priests and religious were courageous and persistent in their quest for justice. Secondly, Cardinal Mahony avoids publicly humiliating trials (15 at last count) that would have forced him to expose his Church’s complicity in criminal behavior or perjure himself. Thirdly, the public will (hopefully) have access to the priests’ personnel files. If the Archdiocese complies with the terms of the settlement agreement, they will be forced to reveal the hidden secrets and behavior of its worst priests. The public has a right to this information so that history does not repeat itself. Finally, all institutions including the Catholic Church are not above the law or the public trust. They must be accountable to the larger society.

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