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Paul Kiesel
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The Catholic Church Still Doesn't Want You to Know Its Secrets

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From the Associated Press:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut sought Friday to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep under wraps sex abuse documents that could shed light on how a prominent retired cardinal handled the allegations.

Bridgeport Diocese officials asked the state Supreme Court to continue a stay on releasing the documents while it asks the nation’s highest court to review the case.

The state court has ruled that more than 12,000 pages of documents from more than 20 lawsuits against priests should be released. Those documents have been sealed from public view since the diocese settled the cases in 2001.

The records could reveal details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000. Egan’s deposition should be in the file, according to an attorney for the newspapers seeking the documents.

In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after church records were released detailing his role in handling sexual abuse claims.

The Bridgeport Diocese faced a Monday deadline to appeal before the records were disclosed.

"The diocese believes there are important constitutional issues," said Ralph Johnson III, attorney for the church. "These are issues important to all citizens."

Johnson acknowledged that the nation’s highest court takes up only a small percentage of cases it is asked to review.

The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant have been seeking the documents. Jonathan Albano, attorney for some of the papers, said that he would object to continuing the stay and that the case really involves state law that has been resolved.

"It’s somewhat disappointing that the diocese continues to approach the litigation in a way that delays the public’s right to see these documents," Albano said. "There’s been seven years of litigation."

An advocacy group for victims of church sexual abuse condemned the latest appeal.

"We’re disappointed that the complicity of top Catholic officials continues to remain hidden," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "This is not what Connecticut Catholics or citizens deserve. It’s one more painful reminder that bishops will do everything possible to protect themselves and their colleagues instead of children."

Church officials said that the media have reported on the cases extensively and that attorneys and victims had access to the sealed documents.

Court officials declined to comment.

In California, state courts ordered Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony to turn over to prosecutors private personnel files of two former priests accused of sexual molestation. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the archdiocese’s appeal.

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