"Porter Confessed to Pope: Ex-North priest told Vatican of abuse in 1973"

Staff and Wire Reports

The Sun Chronicle, May 16, 2002

"NORTH ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts -- Former North Attleboro priest James Porter told Pope Paul VI in 1973 that he had been sexually molesting children, nearly 20 years before victims stepped forward to reveal the abuse they had suffered.

Porter's confession is among newly released records which show that Catholic church officials -- including the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros -- knew of child molestation allegations against Porter as far back as the 1960s. The court document is among hundreds of pages obtained by the Boston Herald and reported today.

Porter's personnel file included a 17-page letter he wrote to Pope Paul VI in which he asked to be removed from the priesthood. The file was forwarded to the Vatican in 1973.

In the letter addressed to `Most Holy Father,' Porter, who was a priest at St. Mary's Church in North Attleboro during the early 1960s, recounts that Fall River Bishop James Connolly knew he had been caught molesting a boy, and Connolly sent him home to be with his family until the scandal died down.

" 'A short time later Bishop Connolly gave me another chance and assigned me to Sacred Heart Parish in Fall River', Porter wrote. 'I can't recollect much about my stay there except after a short time I again fell into the same situation that plauged me in North Attleboro'."

Porter has admitted to molesting at least 50 children while he was a priest in the Diocese of Fall River in the 1960's. He pleaded guilty to molestating 28 children in 1993 after victims formed a group in 1992 and detailed the abuse against them."