NYT: Pope Benedict played direct role in protecting priest who molested over 200 deaf boys

The New York Times has a blockbuster article on the case of a Wisconsin priest who admitted molesting over 200 deaf boys. The guy was a monster. But, he had protectors in high places at the Vatican. And, one of his protectors is now the Pope:

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.

But Cardinal Bertone halted the process after Father Murphy personally wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger protesting that he should not be put on trial because he had already repented and was in poor health and that the case was beyond the church’s own statute of limitations.

The Catholic hiearchy has enabled and protected child rapists for decades. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the scandal get closer and closer to the Pope, mostly because of what’s happening in his native Germany. But, this article shows that Benedict/Ratzinger was directly involved in the cover up here in the U.S.

This case is so disturbing and shocking. It’s hard to grasp how Benedict has any credibility or moral authority. And, the same holds for the U.S. Conference of Bishops. They put their institutional interests ahead of human decency — and the law.

NOTE FROM JOHN: Kind of goes to show you why we still need newspapers, and especially the New York Times. Their reporter, Laurie Goodstein, deserves a medal for this story.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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