VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles staunchly defended his record on dealing with sexual abuse in the church in an interview published by an Italian newspaper Tuesday.
Mahony, who has been criticized for moving predator priests from posting to posting, told Corriere della Sera that "after 20 years, people are talking about abuse as if we had not done anything. However, since 2002, we have had our program Protecting the Children, in which we illustrate procedures and the guidelines of our zero-tolerance policy that allows no possibility, for example, of anyone found guilty of abuse of minors working for the diocese."
Mahony, who in recent months has refused requests for interviews with the Los Angeles Times, was publicly rebuked in February by current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in connection with his handling of sexual abuse cases.
The cardinal, who is in Rome ahead of the conclave to elect the successor to former Pope Benedict XVI, described to the Italian paper his approach to abuse in earlier years, saying: "I had not understood the real nature of the problem, that people who commit abuse -- not only in the church -- continue to commit their crimes. These things were not so well understood then as they are now.