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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

April-09-02

Vatican Knew of Past Allegations Against Boston Pedophile Priest

Church records released under court order in Massachusetts show that the Archdiocese of Boston knew of allegations of pedophilia against priest Paul Shanley and had shared information about the allegations with the Vatican by 1979. There is no evidence, however, that the Vatican or the Archdiocese asked Shanley to leave his post as priest. As a result, Shanley allegedly raped or molested at least 26 children while a priest in Massachusetts, California, and New York.

Allegations of abuse were routinely covered up by the Archdiocese, which gave recommendations for Shanley to be transferred from location to location. Shanley’s behavior, however, continued to be aberrant. Shanley spoke at a conference advocating sex between men and boys in 1978, and in 1985, a parishioner complained that Shanley was making inappropriate comments including, “When adults have sex with children, the children seduce them.” Despite rumors of child sex abuse, suspicious behavior, and the knowledge of past allegations, the Archdiocese of Boston and other church officials continued to keep Shanley’s pedophilia quiet, and even suggested sending Shanley to a safehouse outside of the U.S. to avoid publicity.

These latest allegations fit into a pattern in which the Roman Catholic Church continuously covers up instances of child sexual abuse by pedophile priests, endangering the well being of thousands of children. Two men have now filed lawsuits in Florida and Oregon that accuse the Vatican of conspiring with church dioceses and religious orders to protect sex offenders and pedophiles operating within the church. Jeffrey Anderson, the attorney who filed the suits, says that he has evidence that the Vatican supported policies that encouraged bishops and dioceses to conceal sex abuse and pedophilia.

Media Resources: Washington Post, 4/9/02; Reuters, 4/3/02


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