May 19, 2005

More light in dark corners

The Orange County Register

As expected, many of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange's once- secret personnel files were released on Tuesday, and the facts inside the files prove what church critics have long argued: Church leaders knew about priests who had molested and raped children, yet they continued to let them serve as priests where they could continue to prey on the youngest, most vulnerable members of the community.

Orange Bishop Tod Brown at a Tuesday news conference called the documents "painful testimony" and earlier responses by the diocese "inadequate and failed."

Even when the diocese had to face up to its actions and inaction, officials there downplayed what they knew. "The files show that diocesan officials knew that at least three priests they accepted to work in Orange County had previously been in trouble for sexual abuse of children in other dioceses," reported the Register.

For instance, officials had said they knew the Rev. Siegfried Widera, who came to Orange County in 1976, had a "moral problem with a boy," "[b]ut the records released on Tuesday show, for the first time, that church leaders knew much more than that." The Rev. Widera was accused of abusing boys in Milwaukee and was even convicted of child molestation, yet the diocese misled the public.

The scandal isn't just something from the distant past, the records also show.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2005 01:33 PM