1963 letter shows former pope knew of abuse

A newly released letter to then-Pope Paul VI indicates the Vatican was aware of clergy abuse in the U.S. nearly five decades ago.

In the 1963 letter released 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 Paracletes.

The letter was released in Los Angeles by attorneys for California clergy abuse victims who obtained the document during litigation.

A message left with the Paracletes was not immediately returned.