May 24, 2010
As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican officials did not
punish or even hold a trial within the Catholic church for a
Wisconsin priest who may have molested as many as 200 deaf boys,
according to The New York Times.
The Times reports that despite warnings from "several" bishops to
Ratzinger about Father
Lawrence Murphy, a priest at
the St. John's School For The Deaf in St. Francis, WI, the Vatican
chose not to act and ultimately allowed Murphy to go unpunished
before his death in 1998.
In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about
the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee's archbishop at the
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
"I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity
of my priesthood," Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to
Cardinal Ratzinger. "I ask your kind assistance in this matter."
files contain no response from Cardinal Ratzinger.
The Times acquired the correspondence and church files from the
lawyers for five men who are suing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee over
A 2006 story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The men's stories are similar. Murphy would call them to his bedroom
in the school, or visit them in their dorm beds late at night,
masturbate them and leave. Sometimes he would go on to other boys.
Often he would say nothing.
Sometimes when the boys saw him
molesting other boys in the dorm room, they would cover their heads
with their blankets, hug themselves tightly and weep.
At times, he
would take their confession in a second floor walk-in closet in the
boy's dorm and molest them.
"Murphy was so powerful and it was so hard," said Geier who was
molested when he was in seventh grade and said he saw more than a
dozen other boys molested.
"You couldn't get out. It was like a
prison. I felt so confused. Here I had Father Murphy touching me. I
would be like, 'God, what's right?' "
Geier said the boys received no sex education and had no idea what
was happening to them. Some, he said, believed it must be all right
because it was being done by a priest.
On Wednesday, the
Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop
Magee, an Irish bishop, for his failure to report child-molesting
priests to police.
Last week, the Pope issued an unprecedented
letter to Ireland addressing the 16 years of church cover-up
But he has yet to say anything about his handling of
an abuse case in Germany.
In that case, Ratzinger approved the 1980 transfer of Rev. Peter Hullermann to a psychological treatment center to receive treatment
for pedophilia. Ratziner, then a cardinal, was the archbishop of
Munich and did not report Hullermann's alleged abuse of boys to
Since January, more than 300 former Catholic school students and
others have stepped forward with abuse claims and the church has
seen it's poll numbers fall drastically.
According to Stern magazine,
Only 17 percent of Germans polled said
that they still trust the Catholic church, compared to 29 percent in
late January, just before the first abuse cases there were made