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Mar-14-2008 17:49printcomments

Sex Abuse Victims Blast Catholic Officials for Not Releasing Secret Records

"They burned us pretty bad. Here is an organization just out of bankruptcy, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to not let these records get released." - Catholic sex abuse survivor Bill Crane

Priest abuse
Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Oregon.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Almost a year after they were promised, secret records with the Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon are still secret. A group representing sex abuse victims from the Catholic Church says the blame lies squarely with Portland's archbishop, John George Vlazny.

Clergy sex abuse victims continue to harshly criticize Portland Catholic officials for "continuing to keep long-secret records about alleged pedophile priests and corrupt church supervisors hidden." They urged a judge to release the documents as soon as possible.

Bill Crane with SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, tells that the whole thing is baffling, as the abuse at the hands of priests here in Oregon and elsewhere is problematic, sometimes in numbers that leave your head spinning. The Oregonian and other major media seem reserved in their reporting when it comes to the Catholic Church. No doubt its influence is far reaching.

I reported on April 18th 2007, (see: Oregon Sex Abuse Victims in Catholic Church Scandal Awarded Over $50 Million) that progress was being made in the wake of a judgment that ordered the church to pay more than $50 million to roughly 200 victims of childhood sex abuse. All of the alleged abuse happened in or was connected to the Catholic Church.

The other huge part of the settlement was that for the first time in history, secret files relating to pedophile priests in the Portland Archdiocese that span half a century would be publicly disclosed.

For some it seemed that transparency would at last erase the Church's shadows and bring the reputation of the organization, paved with allegations of sex abuse, back up to board.

Anybody, any organization, can have problems. Sometimes the problems are horrible, beyond epic proportions, but even those can be brought to an end and back under control in some cases.

Crane says the problem here is simple; he charges that the church simply does not want to end the problem of priest and pedophile sex abuse that by all accounts, has been rampant in its own halls for decades locally. He also says they are not sticking to their obligation of a court order to release earlier records to the public.

"They burned us pretty bad. Here is an organization just out of bankruptcy, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to not let these records get released."

"They continue to lie and deceive and they are good at it."

He says much of the last several months have involved statements made by that indicate the "court problems" have cost them, "to have to close down soup kitchens and reduce public facilities." Crane says the poor me routine being acted out by the church is a disgrace.

"They pitted parishioners against victims, saying we were taking away their money, they were having to close soup kitchens."

He says the Portland Archdiocese and specifically Archbishop of the Portland Diocese, John George Vlazny, "is acting like a corporate CEO, not a man of the clergy."

In spite of their statements about money, the Catholic Church here does seem to have deep pockets when it comes to defending itself.

Opening the records is crucial, SNAP says, because some complicit church employees may be identified and still be in positions of power within the archdiocesan hierarchy or in other institutions overseeing children.

"Disclosing information about such corrupt employees will likely deter future recklessness and wrong-doing, SNAP stated in a news release. "Catholics and citizens also deserve the information."

Crane says "Vlazny and his PR team can duck, dodge and deny all day long. But the simple, sad truth is that sex abuse victims want these records, citizens need these records, Catholics deserve these records and Vlazny is succeeding in hiding these records. Like most of his colleagues across the country, when he's on the verge of having to face tough questions under oath, Vlazny makes promises and cuts deals to protect himself. Later, when public attention wanes, he backpedals and stalls and obfuscates."

We plan to bring you more on this ongoing and partly ignored problem with the Portland Archdiocese next week in a special video segment.

For more information on this history of this case and others, visit

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Henry Clay Ruark March 16, 2008 8:03 am (Pacific time)

Sorry for incomplete statement. Here's rest: " our really democratic S-N channel can inform, then motivate, precisely the kind and level of action we must have to remedy this anti-democratic situation. Let YOUR voices be heard to combat this ecclesiastical attitude, all too typical of olden days and non-democratic regimes."

Anonymous March 16, 2008 6:18 am (Pacific time)

Here we are on another Palm Sunday morning and on the whole nothing much has changed in the attitude of most of our hierarchy. If the leadership of our church would only realize that the people in the pews along with those who have left the pews do love their church. They want, they demand integrity, transparency and accountability from their bishops. Apparently, this is not happening in Portland, Oregon. It should and it should start now. Sister Maureen Paul Turlish Victims' Advocate

Michelle March 15, 2008 5:57 pm (Pacific time)

This breaks my heart. Shame on Vlazny!

Henry Ruark March 15, 2008 4:05 pm (Pacific time)

C-Mudgeon et al: Unfortunately, from past wide experience nationally, it is sometimes the case that the assumed/assured ecclesiastic attitude has a strong impact on key persons who must act. I seem to recall precisely this level-and-kind of delay from Chicago, early on in this long-running tragicomedy. Bureaucracy has its price and sometimes also chooses its preferences, even in our once democratic-equality/based Justice system. Thus open dialog in our really

Curmudgeon March 15, 2008 1:40 pm (Pacific time)

The courts have to take some of the blame for this situation. Why is someone not being held in contempt of court for not producing the records? If Vlazny were held in contempt and jailed, I suspect the records would magically appear within days.

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