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Seattle: Notorious priest admits additional abuse; Archbishop Hunthausen’s ‘pastoral’ recordkeeping

May 14, 2009

A remorseful Father Patrick O’Donnell-- a former priest of the Diocese of Spokane who has admitted abusing more than 30 boys-- said that he abused six boys, and not two, during his 1976-78 ministry in the Archdiocese of Seattle. O’Donnell made his remarks during a trial that will determine whether the Archdiocese of Seattle was liable in allowing the Spokane priest-- who had already committed abuse in Spokane-- to minister in the archdiocese.

Father Michael Ryan, now rector of St. James Cathedral and a close aide to then-Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, at the time was involved in approving visiting priests. According to The Seattle Times, Father Ryan “attributed the lack of written records in part to then-Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen's style, which he described as more pastoral and less by-the-book.” Archbishop Hunthausen permitted Father O’Donnell to minister following a phone conversation with the late Bishop Bernard Topel of Spokane. Now 87, Archbishop Hunthausen will soon testify in the trial.

In 1986 and 1987, the Vatican-- in the words of The New York Times-- “stripped Archbishop Hunthausen of authority over five areas of church policy after concluding that he strayed from orthodoxy in matters touching divorce, ministry to homosexuals, liturgy and the education of priests.” His authority was restored, and he eventually retired five years before the mandatory age of 75.


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