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NYTimes.com Article: Boston Archdiocese Is Sued by San Bernardino Diocese

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  • eunacom@ca-unlimited.com
    This article from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by eunacom@ca-unlimited.com. Chickens come home to roost; or: when it comes to paying the bills, it s
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3 5:07 AM
      This article from NYTimes.com
      has been sent to you by eunacom@....

      Chickens come home to roost; or: when it comes to paying the bills, it's everybody for himself...


      Boston Archdiocese Is Sued by San Bernardino Diocese

      April 3, 2003

      LOS ANGELES, April 2 - Underscoring the financial toll of
      the sexual abuse scandal on the Roman Catholic Church, a
      California diocese has sued the Archdiocese of Boston for
      damages resulting from its failure to disclose a priest's
      history of sexual molestation.

      In a lawsuit filed on Monday, the Diocese of San
      Bernardino, Calif., a populous jurisdiction just east of
      Los Angeles, said Boston church officials gave assurances
      that the priest, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, was in good
      standing, despite a record of sexual abuse when he
      transferred from Boston in 1990.

      The suit, which is believed to be the first in which one
      United States diocese has sued another, accuses the Boston
      Archdiocese of engaging in "misrepresentations and
      suppression of information" as well as "active misconduct
      and negligence" in concealing Father Shanley's background.

      At least 30 people, mainly from Boston, have accused
      Father Shanley of sexually abusing them while they were
      young, in incidents dating to 1967. A lawsuit filed in
      January accused Father Shanley of having sex with a
      17-year-old boy in San Bernardino in 1990 and of persuading
      the boy to have sex with other men.

      Bill Lemann, a lawyer for the San Bernardino Diocese, said
      the diocese was forced to take legal action to protect
      itself financially. Under the law, a party named in a
      lawsuit that wants to shift the legal burden to a
      responsible third party must file an action known as a
      cross-complaint against that party, Mr. Lemann said.

      In the cross-complaint, Catholic officials in San
      Bernardino argued that the Boston Archdiocese should be
      responsible for potential damages stemming from the suit,
      which was filed by Kevin English, 30, and seeks an
      undisclosed sum from both dioceses. The diocese's filing of
      the cross-complaint was first reported today by The Los
      Angeles Times and by local television stations.

      "This action is about determining responsibility, not
      casting blame," the Rev. Howard Lincoln, a spokesman for
      the San Bernardino Diocese, said in a statement. "We have
      no responsibility in the actions that caused the lawsuit so
      we don't believe our parishioners should have to bear its
      financial burden."

      Donna M. Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of
      Boston, declined to comment, saying lawyers had not
      reviewed the suit.

      The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in
      Washington, said the governing national body would have no
      comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, which a spokesman
      characterized as "a rare occurrence." He said that no one
      in the church hierarchy was aware of any previous instance
      in which one diocese sued another but that the suit itself
      was not a doctrinal matter.

      San Bernardino Diocese officials said they would not have
      allowed Father Shanley to say Mass in county parishes had
      they known of his history of misconduct in Boston. They
      said he was removed from the diocese in 1993 when his past
      behavior was discovered.

      The San Bernardino Diocese has 1.1 million Catholics and is
      the nation's 12th largest. It has 110 churches, 97 parishes
      and 13 missions in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
      Officials described the diocese as one of the country's
      poorest and said it led a "paycheck to paycheck" existence
      with just enough money to provide for its parishioners.

      "Paying an enormous settlement would have a devastating
      impact on us, forcing us to cut social programs, close
      schools, and plans to build new churches," Father Lincoln,
      the diocese spokesman, said.

      The diocese has a little more than $1 million in reserves
      and cannot afford to pay a multimillion-dollar damage award
      that could result from the lawsuit, he said.
      San Bernardino church officials said in a statement that
      taking legal action against another diocese was consistent
      with Catholic theology of the church being "one body" in
      Christ. "We have forgiven Boston for his mistake, but we
      are allowing it to take responsibility for the mistake
      through this action," they said.
      In a letter, dated Jan. 16, 1990, to the San Bernardino
      Diocese, the Rev. Robert J. Banks, vicar for administration
      for the Boston Archdiocese, said that Father Shanley was "a
      priest in good standing" and that "I can assure you that
      Father Shanley has no problem that would be of concern to
      your diocese."
      In the letter, which was released by San Bernardino church
      officials, Father Banks noted that Father Shanley had
      recently been granted a one-year medical leave and that he
      planned to live in Palm Springs, Calif.
      A report in The New York Times last year revealed that
      Father Shanley had in fact settled in Palm Springs but,
      unknown to his superiors in Boston, he was receiving his
      support and medical checks at the Cabana Club Resort, which
      caters to gays. Father Shanley became an owner of the
      hotel, along with the Rev. John J. White, another Boston
      priest who was also on sick leave and receiving money from
      the Boston Archdiocese.


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