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Church failed on abuse, archbishop says

LOS ANGELES — Archbishop Jose Gomez, in a letter to parishioners Sunday, 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 archdiocese.

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Gomez said the church needs to acknowledge the ‘‘terrible failure’’ of its handling of abuse cases.

On Thursday, Gomez took away the administrative duties of his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, for failing to take swift action against abusers. In a letter posted on his personal blog Friday, Mahony challenged Gomez for publicly shaming him.

Gomez’s rebuke and Mahony’s public response were unprecedented because they revealed infighting between two church leaders in a Roman Catholic hierarchy that rarely break ranks publicly, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer.

After a court order, the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of the previously secret personnel files of 122 priests accused of molesting children.

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