LOS ANGELES – Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony was attacked by one or more people apparently angered by the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal, according to priests who heard him discuss the assault.
Mahony, 71, told colleagues about the attack during a conference in October, saying he was assaulted because of the scandal.
Rev. Joseph Shea, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale, told The Associated Press that Mahony told the conference that he was attacked in late July or early August as he was dropping off letters at a mailbox near Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. Shea said the cardinal was so badly beaten that he was hospitalized and it took him several weeks to recover.
"The comments people made as they kicked him were connected to the sexual abuse lawsuits," Shea said.
Los Angeles Archdiocese spokeswoman Carolina Guevara said, "Whatever conversation might have taken place between the priests and their bishop was a private conversation and not meant to be public."
The story was first reported by the Los Angeles Daily News on Tuesday.
Rev. Sal Pilato, principal at Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Gardena, who was at the conference, told the Daily News that Mahony's account was "shocking because it was an act of violence and it was someone we know and respect."
The church's settlement with 508 alleged victims was approved July 16. Most of the $660 million settlement began being paid out Monday, with more than $500 million in checks going out in the mail.
Leading up to the settlement, Mahony came under fire from victims and attorneys who said he moved sexually abusive priests to different parishes.
Church officials have said Mahony tried to reach out to victims, meeting with many of them and their families.
Shea said Mahony did not report the attack to police "because he felt he could offer it up in reparation for the sins of others."
"Like Jesus, we must offer our lives and even suffer for Christ, even for things we didn't do," Shea said.
Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Roger Mora said he had no knowledge of the apparent assault.