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Pope Benedict faces questions about child abuse cover-up ...

stringer bell
stringer bell Members Posts: 26,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited March 2010 in The Social Lounge
Pope Benedict faces child abuse cover-up queries

Questions are being raised about whether Pope Benedict was personally involved in covering up a case of child sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest.

Documents seen by the New York Times newspaper suggest that in the 1990s, long before he became Pope, he failed to respond to letters about a US case.

Fr Lawrence Murphy, of Wisconsin, was accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys.

Defending itself, the Vatican said US civil authorities had investigated and dropped the case.

For more than 20 years before he was made Pope, Joseph Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith - the Vatican office with responsibility, among other issues, for the Church's response to child abuse cases.

Allegations that the Church sought to cover up child abuse by Catholic priests in Europe have haunted the Vatican for months.

'So friendly'

The documents seen by the New York Times suggest that in 1996, the then Cardinal Ratzinger twice failed to respond to letters sent to him personally

They concerned the Rev Lawrence Murphy, who worked at a Wisconsin school for deaf children from the 1950s.

Three archbishops of Wisconsin were told Fr Murphy was sexually abusing boys but those allegations were not reported to civil authorities at the time.

Alleged victims quoted by the New York Times gave accounts of the priest pulling down their trousers and touching them in his office, his car, his mother's country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips, and in their dormitory beds at night.

"If he was a real mean guy, I would have stayed away," said Arthur Budzinski, 61, a former pupil of at St John's School for the Deaf, in St Francis, in the Diocese of Milwaukee.

"But he was so friendly, and so nice and understanding. I knew he was wrong, but I couldn't really believe it."

According to the New York Times, Fr Murphy was quietly moved to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes and schools. He died in 1998, still a priest.

Two lawyers have filed lawsuits on behalf of five men alleging the Archdiocese of Milwaukee did not take sufficient action against the priest.

One of the lawyers, Jeff Anderson, told the Associated Press news agency that the documents they had obtained on Fr Murphy, and shown to the New York Times, showed the Vatican was more concerned about possible publicity than about the abuse allegations.

"Instead of removing him from the priesthood, they just gave him a free pass," he said.

'Tragic case'

The Pope's official spokesman, Federico Lombardi, called it a "tragic case" but pointed out that the Vatican had become involved only in 1996, after US civil authorities had dropped the case.

"During the mid-1970s, some of Fr Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities," the Rev Lombardi said in a statement.

"The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was not informed of the matter until some 20 years later."

The Milwaukee diocese was asked to take action by "restricting Father Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Father Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts", the Rev Lombardi added.

He also said that Fr Murphy's poor health and a lack of more recent allegations had been factors in the decision not to defrock him.

But the Vatican's decision not to carry out its own investigation is the question that brings the now Pope's own involvement centre stage, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Christopher Landau.

Victims of sexual abuse by priests have long argued that the Church has been more interested in protecting its reputation and helping its priests than seeking justice for victims, our correspondent adds.

Fr Murphy died in 1998, with - in the Church's view - no official blemish on his priestly record.

But questions about why Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to concerns being raised by American archbishops still demand answers, our correspondent says.

And such questions mean that this sexual abuse crisis continues to have an impact at the very highest level in the Roman Catholic church, he adds.


  • stringer bell
    stringer bell Members Posts: 26,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2010
    Vatican defends decision not to defrock U.S. priest

    The Vatican did not discipline a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing up to 200 deaf boys in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s as Church laws do not require automatic punishment, its spokesman said on Thursday.


    The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Vatican did not defrock Rev. Lawrence Murphy in the late 1990s despite receiving clear warnings from his bishops that his case was serious and could embarrass the Church.

    The report came amid mounting allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Europe and pressure on bishops, mostly in Ireland, to resign for failing to report cases to civil authorities.

    Among 25 internal Church documents the Times posted on its website was a 1996 letter about Murphy to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the Vatican's top doctrinal official and now Pope Benedict, showing he was informed of his case.

    Ratzinger's deputy first advised a secret disciplinary trial but later reversed that in 1998 after Murphy appealed directly to Ratzinger for clemency. The priest died later that year.

    Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement that Murphy had broken the law but a civil probe into complaints against him in the mid-1970s had been dropped and the Vatican only learned of the allegations 20 years later.

    "The canonical (Church law) question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Father Murphy," Lombardi said.

    "In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties."


    The 1996 letter to Ratzinger from the then Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland was not answered, the Times said.

    After eight months, Weakland wrote a second letter to Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who is now a cardinal and the pope's secretary of state, or Vatican prime minister.

    According to the documents on the Times website, Bertone first advised Weakland in 1997 to discipline Murphy according to a 1962 Vatican document ordering secrecy in handling cases of sexual misconduct by priests.

    Murphy appealed directly to Ratzinger in 1998, saying he had repented for his sins and, at 72, was in poor health. Three months later, Bertone backtracked and advised only "pastoral measures" to deal with him. These measures are internal disciplinary steps such as barring him from public ministry.

    The diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, where Murphy had moved in 1974 after his abuse cases had surfaced in Milwaukee, rejected this advice and proceeded to organize an internal trial. That work stopped when Murphy died four months later.

    Lombardi said the Vatican did not tell bishops not to report abuse to civil authorities but critics note the 1962 document in Latin, known as Crimen sollicitationis ("crime of solicitation") did not specifically say they should.

    The critics say bishops steeped in the Church's traditional culture of secrecy would assume they should avoid embarrassing it by going public with such issues.


    The letters obtained by the Times from lawyers representing five abuse victims suing the Milwaukee archdiocese showed that Weakland and Bishop Raphael Fliss of Superior stressed to the Vatican the damage Murphy had done among deaf Catholics he ministered to as teacher and head of a school for the deaf.

    A social worker's notes from a confidential Milwaukee archdiocese interview with Murphy in 1993 showed he admitted abusing 19 boys but said allegations of about 200 cases were "likely to be fairly accurate."

    In Rome, leaders of the Survivors Network of those abused by Priests (SNAP) demonstrated in front of St. Peter's Square holding up pictures of Murphy and some of his victims.

    In a letter to Irish Catholics last week, Pope Benedict stressed the Church must cooperate with civil authorities in investigating sexual abuse allegations.

    The Vatican's chief prosecutor for such cases told an Italian Catholic newspaper this month that Church courts tried only about 20 percent of such cases secretly referred to Rome. About 60 percent of them ended with only internal sanctions.
  • One Spliff
    One Spliff Members Posts: 5,354 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2010
    pope benedict is a 🤬
  • nujerz84
    nujerz84 Members Posts: 15,418 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2010
    One of the many reason I left the catholic Church a long time ago.
  • "A Tout le Mond
    "A Tout le Mond Members Posts: 121
    edited March 2010
    Well it is the catholic church, wtf do people expect.
  • The Jackal
    The Jackal Members Posts: 1,897 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2010
    smh I wonder if 🤬 exist what does he think
  • ckfree
    ckfree Members Posts: 9,659 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2010

    it's as if the 🤬 of little boys must have been part of the liturgy or some 🤬