The highest-ranking American at the Vatican, Archbishop William Levada, was deposed for seven hours Monday when lawyers questioned him on how the Diocese of Portland handled sex abuse allegations when he served as bishop there from 1986 to 1995.
The archbishop then served the Archdiocese of San Francisco for 10 years before being named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in August 2005. Prior to his departure for Rome, he was served with a subpoena to appear in court, reported the Associated Press.
In 2004, Portland became the first Catholic diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy due to sex abuse lawsuits seeking more than $155 million in damages. About 150 of those suits are still pending.
Plaintiffs' attorney Kelly Clark told the AP that Archbishop Levada was articulate and that it was "a remarkably uncontentious deposition." Clark was reportedly prevented by a court order from discussing any specifics from the deposition.
In a Dec. 30 order, Judge Elizabeth Perris limited the scope of questioning to the archbishop’s knowledge of Church policies and procedures in dealing with sex abuse claims. Lawyers were forbidden from questioning Archbishop Levada about his work in Rome with the Congregation, where his tasks include reviewing abuse allegations against priests, reported the AP.