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Notes on the Manual

"The Manual" was written by three men involved in the Gauthe case as it unfolded in 1985. F. Ray Mouton was Gauthe's lawyer. Rev. Thomas P. Doyle was a canon lawyer at the Vatican embassy in Washington. Rev. Michael R. Peterson was the founder and director of St. Luke Institute, where the U.S. bishops sent many of their offending priests for treatment. These three men wrote their report with the knowledge and cooperation of several bishops, including Bernard F. Law (elevated to cardinal while the Manual was being written) and William J. Levada, who would later become the archbishop of San Francisco and then the successor of Joseph Ratzinger as Vatican official responsible for handling abuse cases.

Mouton, Doyle, and Peterson wrote the Manual as a confidential, internal document. They hoped it would be discussed by the bishops at their June 1985 meeting and then implemented. Instead, the report was quietly tabled. Peterson continued to treat priests accused of sexual abuse until his own death from AIDS in 1987. Doyle was removed from his position at the embassy and became a military chaplain and advocate for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

In December 1985, Peterson had sent the Manual, along with an additional essay by himself and a large collection of medical articles on the problem, to every ordinary in the United States. Peterson referred to this crucial package as the Guidelines. We have posted them in user-friendly form with Peterson's letter to the bishops. Peterson's dissemination of the Manual and related materials was a very important event, because it marked the moment at which all the U.S. bishops became aware, demonstrably and in detail, of the sexual abuse crisis. The copy of Peterson's Guidelines that we have posted has been on file in the Dallas bishop's archive since December 27, 1985.

On file but not forgotten: Peterson wrote to all the bishops again a half year later, enclosing revisions to his Guidelines and the Manual. The Dallas copy of the Manual includes the revised pages, carefully updated with Peterson's latest thoughts on the disciplining of accused priests.

For more information on how the Manual was written, see Thomas Doyle, Short History of "The Manual"; Jason Berry, Lead Us Not into Temptation (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000; reprint of 1992 edition), esp. pp. 91-102 and 110-13; and Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, Vows of Silence (New York: Free Press, 2004), esp. pp. 42-50. For an assessment of the Manual in the context of the events of Spring 2002, see Thomas C. Fox, What they knew in 1985 (May 17, 2002). For an on-the-scene description of the Gauthe case from which the Manual emerged, see Jason Berry, The Tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe (May 23, 1985).

Our user-friendly version of the Manual was scanned from PDFs {1 2 3 4} of the original typescript, originally posted by the National Catholic Reporter. We have combined those four files, made them searchable, and reduced the file size the make it easy to download. That one-file version, identical to the original four-part NCR copy, is available here. We corrected our transcription against that original. Please email us if you notice any discrepancies between the PDF original and the HTML version that we have posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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