Cardinal Roger Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, withdrew Monday as the keynote speaker at next month’s annual fundraising dinner for Utah’s Catholic diocese after hearing of potential protests about his alleged role in covering up priest sex abuse in Southern California in the 1980s.

Mahony decided to decline the invitation after recent reports of abuse — including the explosive grand jury finding that more than 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses had abused at least 1,000 victims over 70 years — and the call from Pope Francis “for greater accountability,” diocesan spokeswoman Jean Hill said.

In 2013, Mahony’s L.A. successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, barred him from any public duties, according to the National Catholic Reporter, which said the reason for the move was Mahony’s “alleged failures to protect young people from sexually abusive priests — documented in court filings in recent years.”

Mahony was a seminary classmate and longtime friend of the late Archbishop George H. Niederauer, who led the Beehive State’s Catholics from 1994 to 2005. The affable Niederauer died in 2017 at 80.

Utah’s current bishop, Oscar A. Solis, worked with Mahony in Los Angeles as an auxiliary bishop before coming to Utah last year.

In the aftermath of the Pennsylvania report, Solis said he was “stunned, enraged and scandalized by the past and recent revelations of these misdeeds and the mishandling of allegations of abuse by some of our church authorities.”

Full story at The Salt Lake Tribune.