By Abdon M. Pallasch
The former No. 2 official of the Catholic church in Chicago admitted that he knew 25 priests broke the law by sexually abusing children but did not report them, according to depositions made public Tuesday.
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Raymond E. Goedert's statements show "the lengths they went to to protect their reputation and the priest at the peril of the child," said attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents men who have sued the archdiocese over alleged childhood molestation.
"I knew the civil law considered it a crime," Goedert said in the deposition. "But I'm not a civil lawyer. I think we just relied on -- a lot on our -- we knew it was wrong, what was done. And we used our common sense and prudence with the help of people -- expert in the field to assist us in resolving these cases."
Goedert, the past president of the national Canon Law (Catholic Church law) Society, said families of the victims were not seeking to get the police involved and have the priests criminally charged -- they simply wanted to prevent any other children from being victimized. So while now the church calls police when it learns of credible allegations of abuse, in those days --the '70s and mid-80s -- it did not.
"I simply would not talk about it to anyone except those who had a right to know because of their position in the diocese," Goedert said.
The archdiocese issued a statement confirming that settlements had been reached with six survivors of abuse by priests totaling $3.9 million and that all of the abuse happened between 1970 and 1986. The priests involved were all removed from ministry by 1991 or earlier, the church noted.
Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the depositions show the church's policy of moving abusive priests from one parish to another without warning officials at the new parish and without adequately monitoring abusive priests. Goedert's deposition was taken in 2007.
"The deposition and documents show how deeply ingrained secrecy, deceit and recklessness are in this archdiocese," Dorris said. "Only a fool would believe that decades-old, deeply rooted patterns of ingrained secrecy, deceit and recklessness have magically been transformed."
The settlement documents including Goedert's deposition and a list of priests with sustained allegations of abuse are posted at http://bishop-accountability.org 
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