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1963 Letter Indicates Former Pope Knew of Abuse

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2006 file picture Pope Benedict XVI, right, walks with his brother priest Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg, southern Germany. The pope's brother says in a newspaper interview that he slapped pupils across the face after he took over a renowned German boys' choir in the 1960s. He also says he was aware of allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school linked to the choir, but did nothing about it.  In an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse published Tuesday March 9, 2010 , he said

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2006 file picture Pope Benedict XVI, right, walks with his brother priest Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg, southern Germany. The pope's brother says in a newspaper interview that he slapped pupils across the face after he took over a renowned German boys' choir in the 1960s. He also says he was aware of allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school linked to the choir, but did nothing about it. In an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse published Tuesday March 9, 2010 , he said "repeatedly administered a slap in the face" to pupils at the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir. He says it was common then and he stopped after Germany banned corporal punishment in 1980. (AP Photo/Diether Endlicher,File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A 1963 letter to then-Pope Paul VI indicates the Vatican was aware of clergy abuse in the U.S. nearly five decades ago.

In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the head of a Roman Catholic order that oversaw treatment of pedophile priests tells the pope he recommends removing pedophile priests from active ministry.

The letter is a summary of the Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald's thoughts on problem priests that appears to have been requested by the pope after Fitzgerald's 1963 visit to the Vatican. Fitzgerald headed the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete.

The letter was among several hundred pages of Paraclete documents given to the AP by attorneys for California clergy abuse victims who obtained the document during litigation. The documents were first made public last year after attorneys pursuing clergy abuse claims in Los Angeles got them unsealed.

A message left with the Paraclete was not immediately returned.


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