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New lawsuit against Oakland diocese sheds new light on controversial case

August 19, 2010

Seven plaintiffs have filed suit against the Diocese of Oakland, California, charging that Church officials were negligent in curtailing the activities of a pedophile priest.

The lawsuit brought by six women and one man involves Stephen Kiesle, who was jailed on child-molesting charges in 1978 and laicized in 1978. In April of this year, Kiesle was at the center of a controversy over the role of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, in the laicization process.

In the new lawsuit against the Oakland diocese, the plaintiffs charge that Bishop John Cummins was aware of sex-abuse charges against Kiesle but declined to take appropriate action. That charge appears to be at odds with earlier complaints that diocesan officials sought to curtail Kiesle's ministry but were thwarted by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. (CWN editor Phil Lawler rebutted the latter charges in an On the News essay in April.)


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