Posted on Tue, Apr. 09, 2002
Priest praised sex with boys in '79 talk
BOSTON - (AP) -- The Archdiocese of Boston knew that one of its priests, now accused of rape, spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a 1979 meeting that apparently led to the founding of a national group advocating the practice, according to court documents released Monday.
Archdiocese personnel documents show that Roman Catholic Church officials also knew of sexual misconduct allegations against the priest, the Rev. Paul Shanley, since at least 1967 and continued to give him access to children in different parishes for three decades.
Shanley, now 71, was later transferred to California.
''All of the suffering that has taken place at the hands of Paul Shanley, a serial child molester for four decades -- three of them in Boston -- none of it had to happen,'' said Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for the family of alleged abuse victim Gregory Ford, 24.
The archdiocese did not have any immediate comment on the information in the documents. Shanley could not immediately be located.
Shanley was ordained in 1960 and became well known as a ''street priest'' over the next two decades.
He established a ministry for runaways, drug abusers, drifters and teenagers struggling with sexual identity.
Ford, who says he was repeatedly raped by Shanley in the 1980s, also alleges that Cardinal Bernard Law allowed the priest to remain as pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Newton until 1989, despite knowledge of his behavior.
MacLeish showed reporters a copy of a Feb. 12, 1979, issue of a publication called Gays Week that included an article titled ''Men & Boys.'' The article described a meeting of 150 people in Boston on the topic of man-boy love and it said many speakers representing various religions endorsed such relationships -- including Shanley, who was there as a representative of then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros' program for outreach to sexual minorities.
The North American Man Boy Love Association apparently was formed at the end of the conference by 32 men and two teenagers. There was no indication in the article that Shanley was among them.
Other documents suggest the archdiocese already knew about sexual deviance claims against Shanley.
The same month as the NAMBLA meeting, Medeiros sent a letter to Rome in response to questions from the Vatican in November 1978 about Shanley.
''I believe that Father Shanley is a troubled priest and I have tried to be understanding and patient with him while continuously affirming both privately to him and publicly to my people the church's teaching on sexual ethics,'' Medeiros wrote.
That same year, Medeiros reassigned Shanley to St. John the Evangelist Parish.
The earliest document related to sex abuse dates to 1967:
A priest at LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro wrote a letter of concern to the archdiocese, relating allegations that Shanley had taken boys to a cabin and molested them.