VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar of Los Angeles Wednesday after the archdiocese’s oversight board found a prior allegation of misconduct with a minor to be credible.
Bishop Salazar’s alleged misconduct, which is said to have occurred while he was a parish priest in the 1990s, was previously investigated by both law enforcement in 2002 and the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, which imposed precautionary measures on the bishop’s ministry after 2005.
“In the interest of due process, I requested and received permission from the Congregation for Bishops at the Holy See to submit the allegation to the Archdiocese’s independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said in a letter released Dec. 19.
“The Board found the allegation to be credible and I submitted its findings and recommendations along with my own votum to the Holy See to make its final determination as to Bishop Salazar’s status,” Archbishop Gomez continued.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in the statement that they were made aware of the allegation in 2005, one year after Salazar’s appointment as an auxiliary bishop.
“Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was Archbishop when the Archdiocese was informed of the allegation, requested an immediate review of the case with law enforcement officials,” the statement said. The District Attorney did not file charges after the investigation. Archbishop Gomez’s letter did not explain why the district attorney declined to press charges or whether authorities deemed the allegations credible, or why the 2002 criminal investigation did not come to the archdiocese's attention earlier in the episcopal vetting process prior to Bishop Salazar's ordination in 2004.
The announcement comes after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released its updated list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors Dec. 6. Archbishop Gomez requested a full review of any allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors as a part of the 2018 revisions to the 2004 Report to the People of God.
The archdiocese’s Report to the People of God was also updated in 2005 and 2008 and covers 70 years of credible cases of sexual abuse by clergy against minors.
Prior to his resignation, Bishop Salazar served as the archdiocese’s Vicar for the Office of Ethnic Ministries. Born in Costa Rica, Salazar, 69, was ordained to the priesthood in California in 1984, and served in several California parishes before being appointed an auxiliary bishop in 2004.
Bishop Salazar has consistently denied any wrongdoing since the allegation was first brought forward, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“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,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Let us continue to stay close to the victim-survivors of abuse, through our prayer and our actions.”
The Register added to this report.