The documents relate to Vatican priests accused of molesting children, and were used to help more than 550 plaintiffs settle with the archdiocese in 2007 for a record-breaking $US660 million. At that time, the files associated with the cases were ordered to be released to the public, but the Vatican argued for a process to firstly edit some personnel files before their release. Attorneys for the archdiocese wanted the names of Church hierarchs recorded in the documents to be blacked out, as was permitted by a 2010 order by Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who said he feared that releasing the names may be used to ‘embarrass or ridicule the Church’. In December 2012, the ‘Associated Press’ and the ‘Los Angeles Times’ intervened in the case and argued in court papers that the heavy redactions of the sort proposed by the Church would prevent the public from learning which top Vatican officials knew about the plague of pedophile priests, and their involvement in the cover-up of the scandal. Attorneys for the media’s challenge contended that the Vatican’s secrecy concerns were motivated by ‘a desire to avoid further embarrassment’ for the Church, rather than the privacy worries of the people named in the documents, as was claimed by the Church.
Rumors that Pope John Paul II is named in the files
Victims’ association, ‘Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ (SNAP) has welcomed Judge Elias’s decision, stating: ‘We’re thrilled and grateful that a California judge is refusing to protect corrupt Catholic officials by keeping long-secret and long-promised church abuse records hidden any longer’. It is believed that the names revealed in the documents range from priests at local churches, various bishops and cardinals, Pope John Paul II, and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI today) who, since 2001 oversaw clerical sex abuse cases for the Vatican. As is now being revealed by the international media, the priesthood culture that operated under Pope John Paul II covered up the most grievous crimes and sins of child sex abuse, and many perpetrators were shielded by John Paul II himself, one example being the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican pedophile priest who founded the Legionaries of Christ.