The recently retired head of the nation's largest archdiocese will be deposed Feb. 23 about how he handled a visiting Mexican priest who police believe molested 26 children in the Los Angeles archdiocese during a nine-month stay in 1987. The Rev. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera fled to Mexico in 1988 after parents complained. He has since been defrocked but remains a fugitive, with warrants for his arrest in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Archdiocese attorney Michael Hennigan said Mahony will be questioned Feb. 23, before he heads to Rome to help select the new pope.
Mahony has been deposed in civil clergy abuse lawsuits multiple times over the years. Next week's deposition, however, would be the first since the archdiocese released thousands of pages under court order from the confidential personnel files of more than 120 priests accused of sex abuse.
The files show Mahony and other top archdiocese officials maneuvered behind the scenes to protect pedophile priests in order to save the church from scandal. Mahony has apologized for those actions and contends he turned the archdiocese into a leader for safeguarding children.
Meantime, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has sent a letter to all the priests in the archdiocese asking them to pray for Mahony as he prepares to travel to Rome.
He says Mahony's accomplishments and expertise will help in the election of the new pope.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.