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Church finds, releases new files on accused priest

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The embattled Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston turned over more documents Thursday concerning the Rev. Paul Shanley, a now-retired priest accused of sexually abusing minors as the archdiocese shuttled him from parish to parish.

The archdiocese handed over the records -- weeks after releasing another set of files -- to attorneys representing people suing the church for doing nothing to keep Shanley away from children despite knowing of allegations he abused children, a church spokesman said.

"No one knew that these files were around," the Rev. Chris Coyne said at a news conference Wednesday. "At first they were thought to be duplicate files.

"It's terribly embarrassing to come out and say this, that at this late a date they have found files like that."

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Earlier this month, church officials followed a court order and handed over documents that indicated the archdiocese repeatedly transferred Shanley, and even recommended him to a California archdiocese, despite mounting allegations against him.

Shanley, according to these documents, belonged to the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, which advocates sexual relationships between men and boys.

Church officials said they found the documents at the chancery, the office that performs secretarial services to the Boston archdiocese, earlier this week.

Coyne said he had not reviewed the approximately 800 pages of documents, but church lawyers said the files pertained to Shanley's ministry and concerns about his NAMBLA affiliation.

"They just continue to fill in the blanks that we didn't have," Coyne said.

Shanley, who worked with troubled youths while in Massachusetts, is now retired and living in San Diego, California.

Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for Greg Ford, who said Shanley molested him between the ages of 6 and 11, released the first batch of documents on April 8 after the church lost a court fight to prevent anyone from speaking about the records. MacLeish has alleged Shanley abused at least 30 young people.

The release of the documents, as well as the recent conviction of another former Boston-area priest, John Geoghan, who is accused of abusing 130 children over 30 years, has fueled calls for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the archdiocese leader since 1984.

Rodney Ford, who claims that Shanley molested his son, said he found it "hard to comprehend" the church leaders' actions.  

On Wednesday, at the close of a meeting between Pope John Paul II and U.S. cardinals, including Law, the cardinals issued a statement saying they would seek to dismiss any "notorious" priest found guilty of "serial, predatory, sexual abuse of minors."

But the statement did not endorse a "zero-tolerance policy" -- in which no instance of molestation would be tolerated.

Rodney Ford, the father of Greg Ford, called the communiqué "insulting," saying the cardinals "really didn't accomplish much toward settling any of the cases with the victims, or even reaching out with an apology."


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