LA Bishop Resigns After Accusations Of Misconduct With A Minor

A Catholic worshiper prays during a pilgrimage with Pope John Paul II's remains on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 in Bucharest, Romania (Photo by Vadim Ghirda/AP)

The Vatican announced Wednesday that it has accepted the resignation of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Monsignor Alexander Salazar. Salazar was accused of misconduct with a minor while he served as a priest at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Pasadena in the 1990s.

Salazar has repeatedly denied the allegation, but stepped down nonetheless.

The charges against Salazar were first reported to the Pasadena Police Department in 2002.

Pasadena police say the department investigated an accusation of "lewd acts upon a child" that allegedly occurred at a private home, but determined the accusation to be unfounded. Still, it submitted a report to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, which in August 2002, declined to file charges.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese says it became aware of the allegations against Salazar in 2005. Because Salazar was then a bishop, local officials reported the incident to the Vatican, as required by Catholic Church canon law.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the office that handles abuse claims, investigated Salazar and determined he could remain a bishop, but with certain precautionary conditions imposed on his ministry. Church officials have not yet provided details about those conditions.

Salazar was ordained as a priest in 1984 and served as a regional bishop for San Pedro.

Patrick Wall, a legal advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse said it is clear Salazar would have continued to have access to children as a regional bishop.

"As far as we can tell, he was never penalized in any way, shape or form," Wall said. "He fully functioned as a bishop. And that's the scary part. How is the public supposed to protect their children if they're not properly warned?"

Earlier this year, Archbishop Jose Gomez requested a full review of sexual misconduct allegations in an attempt to update the church's list of credibly accused priests. The archdiocese added the names of 54 priests accused of abuse since 2008 in the update, the first in 10 years.

As part of that process, the archbishop asked the Holy See for permission to allow a local clergy misconduct oversight board to review the decades-old case against Salazar.

That review board found the allegation to be credible and recommended that the bishop be removed from ministry. Archbishop Gomez accepted that recommendation and passed it along to Pope Francis, who accepted Salazar's resignation Wednesday.

"These decisions have been made out of deep concern for the healing and reconciliation of abuse victims and for the good of the Church's mission," Gomez said in a letter to L.A. church faithful.

Aaron Schrank reported this story as part of his coverage of religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora made possible by a grant from the Luce Foundation.

UPDATES:

Dec. 19, 8:30 p.m.: This article was updated with more details from Pasadena police, Los Angeles district attorney's office and the L.A. Archdiocese.

This article was originally published on Dec. 19, 9:55 a.m.

Jessica Ogilvie contributed to this story.


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