Catholic leaders admit 'horrible' abuse by priests

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The Independent US

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston conceded yesterday that some of its priests had committed "truly horrible" acts against women and minors and that it was committed to compensating the victims.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston conceded yesterday that some of its priests had committed "truly horrible" acts against women and minors and that it was committed to compensating the victims.

The acknowledgement came after a US court released about 3,000 pages of archdiocese documents outlining the cases of eight Catholic priests who had been allowed to stay in the ministry despite allegations of gross misconduct.

The documents record that priests took sexual advantage of women training to become nuns, conducted affairs with women parishioners and snorted and dispensed cocaine.

The papers are being used by lawyers representing about 450 plaintiffs in a series of sexual abuse court actions against the archdiocese. The lawyers say the papers demonstrate that its hierarchy knew of cases of misconduct and failed to take action to protect parishioners.

"There has been no other archdiocese where the extent of the problem has been so clearly identified," said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Donna Morrissey, archdiocese spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the specific allegations, but added: "Some of the information contained in those documents is truly horrible. We're committed to helping any and all survivors." The archdiocese, however, may declare bankruptcy, which would in effect stop the civil actions.

The documents include a 1993 letter from Sister Catherine Mulkerrin alleging that one local priest, named as Robert Meffan, had taken "sexual advantage" of newly recruited nuns in the 1960s. According to the records, Fr Meffan encouraged the women to become "brides of Christ" and described himself as the "second coming of Christ".

Fr Meffan did not deny the claims in an interview with The Boston Globe newspaper. "I felt that by having this little bit of intimacy with them that this is what it would be like with Christ," he said.

Another priest, Richard Buntel, is also identified as allegedly having had sex with boys and taking cocaine with them between 1978 and 1983.

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