The plaintiffs in lawsuits against the church say the documents, inadvertently forwarded to them by the church's own lawyers, support their claim that abuse here was more widespread than once believed and that the church continues to conceal it.
The church, which is demanding the return of the documents, says no priest against whom there is a credible claim of sexual misconduct is in active ministry within the Jackson diocese.
Lawsuits against the church in Mississippi claim Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston on Dec. 13 over his handling of the sex abuse scandal there, knew of sexual abuse by priests even when he was serving in Jackson in the 1960s. That's long before the time he has acknowledged knowing of such abuse.
At least 18 people are suing the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, claiming abuse by at least seven priests.
In a motion filed with the state Supreme Court, plaintiffs' lawyer Marcie Fyke said the church acknowledged in the documents that 22 priests have been accused of sexual abuse over the years. The motion was posted on the Internet this week by a victims' support group - Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
Fyke did not identify the priests in her motion. However, she wrote that one is currently in a ranking position in the diocese and presumably contributing to the church's decision to fight an earlier court order to turn over information on other priests accused of molestation.
The church had appealed that earlier order to the state Supreme Court, arguing in part that the constitutional separation of church and state protects them from such civil court jurisdiction.
The documents are the subject of a dispute in the Supreme Court over whether they should be sealed, with the church asking the high court to order the documents returned. The diocese says the victims have "twisted the facts" in the documents.
The diocese's judicial vicar, the Rev. Keith Slattery, said Wednesday that while he was not familiar with civil procedures, "as I understand it, their (plaintiffs') attorney was not at liberty to disclose this but she did."
Fyke said she filed a response Wednesday challenging allegations by church officials that she violated ethical standards. "I did not circulate any information inappropriately," she said.