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More Documents Turn Up In Boston

The Boston Archdiocese turned over additional papers to lawyers Thursday showing that church officials knew a priest had publicly advocated sex between men and boys.

Church officials discovered the papers last week during a review of another priest's records, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, an archdiocese spokesman.

They were given to lawyers for Gregory Ford, 24, and his parents, who are suing Cardinal Bernard Law and the archdiocese for allegedly failing to protect Ford from abuse by the Rev. Paul Shanley.

The lawyers released the papers later Thursday.

In excerpts of what Attorney Roderick MacLeish described as Shanley's writings from 1972, the priest describes in frank language his life as a "street priest," ministering to drug addicts, runaways and homosexuals.

The writings also refer to his own experiences with venereal disease.

The papers also show the archdiocese ignored warnings of Shanley's involvement with the North American Man Boy Love Association, which endorses sex between men and boys.

MacLeish said he received about 800 pages. Coyne said many were believed to be duplicates of the previously released documents.

The archdiocese had previously released about 800 pages of church records.

Those documents showed church officials had been told of allegations of abuse against Shanley as early as 1967; they would eventually receive a total of 26 abuse complaints. Shanley was never charged in any of those cases.

Also included were articles showing the archdiocese knew Shanley had been a vocal proponent of sex between men and boys, as well as correspondence between the archdiocese and the Vatican on Shanley's views about sex.

Shanley, whose last known address is in San Diego, has issued no public statements since the case began.

Coyne said the discovery of the new documents, which included letters reporting that Shanley approved of man-boy sex, is more evidence that officials received and ignored numerous complaints about Shanley.

"It's terribly embarrassing at this late date to come out and say this," Coyne said. "No one knew these files were around. It wasn't just one letter that was overlooked. It's another bad thing. It makes us look like we're not being honest."

In other recent developments:

  • A priest who has spent three years conducting Mass for Spanish-speaking Catholics in South Carolina has been indicted on a charge of committing a lewd act on a minor.
  • Philadelphia's Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua says Catholic leaders hope to establish national standards for dealing with pedophile priests at next month's bishops' meeting in Dallas. Bevilacqua says the issue of when to notify civil authorities may be one of the items on the agenda at the bishops' conference.

    The Philadelphia Archdiocese Friday night hosts an annual fundraising dinner with eight cardinals in attendance. Most years, the event raises about a million dollars for Catholic University.

  • Baltimore's Cardinal William Keeler says he believes church officials at next month's meeting will pursue a binding national policy of "zero tolerance" for priests who commit sex offenses.

    Keeler Thursday created a new office to review sex abuse policies in his own diocese; a priest is heading up the panel.

  • Lay Catholics will play key roles in sex abuse review panels being set up in the dioceses of Cleveland, Ohio, and Altoona, Pa. The Cleveland panel will be headed up by a layman: William Denihan, a Catholic who was defeated in a bid for mayor last year and has an extensive resume of public service, including in law enforcement. In Altoona, an entire panel of lay people will review future allegations of child sex abuse committed by priests. "For our sake, for the victim's sake, for the priest's sake, it's better to have this extra layer," explains Altoona diocesan spokeswoman Sister Mary Parks.
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