Should the Catholic Church's Secret Archives Be Opened for All to See?

Morning Call
March 12, 2016

In an office on Hamilton Street in 2002, the district attorneys of the five counties in the Allentown Catholic Diocese pored over files that contained allegations of sexual abuse by a number of priests. The files came from a secret archive that church law requires every diocese keep. Stored under lock and key, those archives contain accusations of criminal behavior or "moral matters."

In Pennsylvania, the law works to protect those archives and their secrets. But in some states, such as Minnesota, a brief lifting of the statute of limitations brought those files to light and online.

On Sunday, The Morning Call examines the movement to change Pennsylvania law by extending or eliminating the obstacles that keep people from suing the church for decades-old complaints of sexual abuse. Such a change could unlock the secret archives and, some say, open a Pandora's Box.

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