Letters indicate church knew of abuse in 1950s

Servants of the Paraclete founder warned church leaders
A Catholic priest who specialized in treating sexually abusive priests strongly advised church leaders—including Pope Paul VI—that abusers should be defrocked and possibly exiled to a Caribbean island, according to correspondence recently unearthed by an independent Catholic newspaper.

During the 1950s and ’60s, Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete order, repeatedly wrote to Catholic bishops and Paul VI to warn them about the persistence of pedophilia among abusive priests.

“Personally, I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young,” Fitzgerald wrote to the pope in 1963. “Where there is indication of incorrigibility . . . I would most earnestly recommend total laicization,” or defrocking.


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