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Deposition: Cardinal Levada thought it unnecessary to tell laity of abusive priest’s past

Catholic World News - April 05, 2010

Angered by Cardinal William Levada’s recent criticism of The New York Times’ coverage of the clerical abuse scandal, an attorney released the transcript of a 2006 deposition in which the cardinal defended reassigning an abusive priest without informing parishioners.

Cardinal Levada, who served as Archbishop of Portland (Oregon) from 1986 to 1995, removed Father Joseph Baccellieri from ministry in 1992 after it came to light that the priest committed homosexual abuse in the 1970s. After the priest received therapy, Cardinal Levada returned Father Baccellieri to limited ministry in 1994.

“If I thought Father Baccellieri would be a risk to any child, I would never have reassigned him,” the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in his 2006 deposition. If he had informed parishioners of Father Baccellieri’s past, it “might give people the implication that if they are being told this, that I am suspecting that he-- he may be at risk-- he may be a risk to their children.”

“Wouldn't you have some sort of a pastoral moral requirement to let individual parishioners make that determination for themselves?” the attorney asked Cardinal Levada.

“I think it was prudent to act the way I did,” he replied. “I stand on that-- on that judgment I made.”

Cardinal Levada informed the parish’s pastor about Father Baccellieri’s past abuse. No additional complaints have been lodged against the priest, who retired in 2002.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JR - Apr. 05, 2010 9:00 PM ET USA

    And how does the "zero tolerance" policy apply to those "princes" of the Church who sent wolves back into the pasture?

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Apr. 05, 2010 7:58 PM ET USA

    When Pope Benedict selected Cardinal Levada to be the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I began to lose hope that this Pope would clean up the Church. Levada left the Diocese of Portland, OR a mess when he went to San Francisco. In San Francisco he was no better as Archbishop and never confronted the abuses there or people like Nancy Pelosi for their counter-Catholicism. These are dark days for the Church. Will God raise up saints to clean house as He did in the past?

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