Church Files Show 'Naiveté' of Abuse

Associated Press, carried in
November 29, 2008

PORTLAND -- Documents released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland this week fall short of implicating higher-ups in trying to hide sexual abuse of young people by priests, a leading victim advocate said Friday.

Portland lawyer Kelly Clark said that while the documents revealed a certain amount of "stupidity or naiveté," they weren't the "smoking gun" that would show church officials had covered up abuse, as advocates such as Clark had said they might be.

At a news conference Friday, Clark said additional documents released after pending litigation is complete might have such evidence.

A spokesman for the archdiocese did not respond to calls for comment.

Clark again raised complaints about former Archbishop William Joseph Levada, who now serves as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Vatican.

An employee at the Vatican said Friday night that nobody was available to comment.

Clark said he now understands that Levada and at least one other church official received "direct rumors, reports and allegations" about the improprieties of an Oregon priest, but Levada didn't check the files on the priest.

Such allegations against Levada date back years. Clark said Friday that he was unable to say whether his understanding was a result of the new documents or those previously released.

The archdiocese released a number of documents this week after U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan ordered it to do so as a result of the settlement in 2007 of about 175 lawsuits for $50 million, putting an end to the first bankruptcy filing in the nation by a Catholic diocese.

Clark represented more than 40 victims.

Under the judge's ruling, the archdiocese did not have to release documents that pertained to priests whose conduct is the subject of ongoing litigation. As litigation ends, those documents can be made public.


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