Ratzinger's Responsibility
by Hans Kng

March 18, 2010

from NCronLine Website

'Scandalous Wrongs Cannot Be Glossed Over, We Need a Change of Attitude'


[Fr. Hans Kng is a theologian and author of many books, including Does God Exist: An Answer for Today and Infallible?: An Inquiry.]


After Archbishop Robert Zollitsch's recent papal audience, he spoke of Pope Benedict's "great shock" and "profound agitation" over the many cases of abuse which are coming to light.


Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg, Germany, and the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, asked pardon of the victims and spoke again about the measures that have already been taken or will soon be taken. But neither he nor the pope have addressed the real question that can no longer be put aside.

According to the latest Emnid-poll, only 10 percent of those interviewed in Germany believe that the church is doing enough in dealing with this scandal; on the contrary, 86 percent charge the church's leadership with insufficient willingness to come to grips with the problem.


The bishops' denial that there is any connection between the celibacy rule and the abuse problem can only confirm their criticism.


  1. 1st Question:

    Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls "holy" celibacy is a "precious gift", thus ignoring the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church?


    Celibacy is not "holy"; it is not even "fortunate"; it is "unfortunate", for it excludes many perfectly good candidates from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their office, simply because they want to marry.


    The rule of celibacy is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the 11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the 16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the Reformers.

    Honesty demands that the pope, at the very least, promise to rethink this rule - something the vast majority of the clergy and laity have wanted for a long time now.


    Both Alois Glck, the president of the Central Committee of the German Catholics and Hans-Jochen Jaschke, auxiliary bishop of Hamburg, have called for a less uptight attitude towards sexuality and for the coexistence of celibate and married priests in the church


  2. 2nd Question:

    Is it true, as Archbishop Zollitsch insists, that "all the experts" agree that abuse of minors by clergymen and the celibacy rule have nothing to do with each other? How can he claim to know the opinions of "all the experts"?


    In fact, there are numerous psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who see a connection here. The celibacy law obliges the priest to abstain from all forms of sexual activity, though their sexual impulses remain virulent, and thus the danger exists that these impulses might be shifted into a taboo zone and compensated for in abnormal ways.

    Honesty demands that we take the correlation between abuse and celibacy seriously.


    The American psychotherapist Richard Sipe has clearly demonstrated, on the basis of a 25 year study published in 2004 under the title Knowledge of sexual activity and abuse within the clerical system of the Roman Catholic church, that the celibate way of life can indeed reinforce pedophile tendencies, especially when the socialization leading to it, i.e. adolescence and young adulthood spent in minor and major seminary cut off from the normal experiences of their peer groups, is taken into account.


    In his study, Sipe found retarded psycho-sexual development occurring more frequently in celibate clerics than in the average population.


    And often, such deficits in psychological development and sexual tendencies only become evident after ordination.


  3. 3rd Question:

    Instead of merely asking pardon of the victims of abuse, should not the bishops at last admit their own share of blame? For decades, they have not only tabooed the celibacy issue but also systematically covered up cases of abuse with the mantle of strictest secrecy, doing little more than re-assigning the perpetrators to new ministries.


    In a statement of March 16, Bishop Ackermann of Trier, special delegate of the German Bischops' Conference for sexual abuse cases, publicly acknowledged the existence of such a cover-up, but characteristically he put the blame not on the church as institution, but rather on the individual perpetrators and the false considerations of their superiors.


    Protection of their priests and the reputation of the church was evidently more important to the bishops than protection of minors.


    Thus, there is an important difference between the individual cases of abuse surfacing in schools outside the Catholic church and the systematic and correspondingly more frequent cases of abuse within the Catholic church, where, now as before, an uptight, rigoristic sexual morality prevails, that finds its culmination in the law of celibacy.

    Honesty demands that the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference should have clearly and definitively announced, that, in the future, the hierarchy will cease to deal with cases of criminal acts committed by those in the service of the church by circumventing the state system of justice.


    Can it be that the hierarchy here in Germany will only wake up when it is confronted with demands for reparation payments in terms of millions of dollars? In the United States, the Catholic church had to pay some $1.3 billion alone in 2006; in Ireland, the government helped the religious orders set up a compensation fund with a ruinous sum of $2.8 billion.


    Such sums say much more about the dimensions of the problem than the pooh-poohing statistics about the small percentage of celibate clergy among the general population of abusers.


  4. 4th Question:

    Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of whining about a campaign against his person?


    No other person in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse crossing his desk.


    Here some reminders:


    • In his eight years as a professor of theology in Regensburg, in close contact with his brother Georg, the capellmeister of the Regensburger Domspatzen, Ratzinger can hardly have been ignorant about what went on in the choir and its boarding - school. This was much more than an occasional slap in the face, there are charges of serious physical violence and even sexual abuse.

    • In his five years as Archbishop of Munich, repeated cases of sexual abuse at least by one priest transferred to his Archdiocese have come to light. His loyal Vicar General, my classmate Gerhard Gruber, has taken full responsibility for the handling of this case, but that is hardly an excuse for the Archbishop, who is ultimately responsible for the administration of his diocese.

    • In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, sometimes simply called the 'Holy Office'), from around the world, all cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be reported, under strictest secrecy ("secretum pontificum"), to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on "grave sexual crimes" addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe "papal secrecy" in such cases.

    • In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done nothing to change this practice with all its fateful consequences.

Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own "mea culpa".


As Bishop Tebartz van Elst of Limburg, in a radio address on March 14, put it:

"Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over or tolerated, we need a change of attitude that makes room for the truth. Conversion and repentance begin when guilt is openly admitted, when contrition1 is expressed in deeds and manifested as such, when responsibility is taken, and the chance for a new beginning is seized upon."

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Calamity for Pope as The Past - and Case of Peter Hullermann - Returns to Haunt Him...
by Riazat Butt and John Hooper

19 March 2010

from Guardian Website

Child abuse by German cleric among claims causing crisis for Vatican


Pope Benedict XVI: 700 new sex abuse cases have recently come to light

in what has been said to be the worst crisis for the Vatican since the middle ages.

Photograpoh: Gregorio Borgia/AP

For Father Rupert Frania it seemed the best way. His parishioners in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Tlz had just learned a terrible secret.

It had been reported that one of their curates was a convicted pedophile, Peter Hullermann. The curate who had officiated at the children's mass. The one who had been with their sons and daughters the year before at a campsite in the mountains over their medieval town.

Frania decided to tackle the issue from an angle. In his sermon at the main mass last Sunday morning, he began with the parable of the prodigal son - and was stopped dead in mid-sentence.

"I cannot listen to that," shouted a man who was soon to have been married by Hullerman. "You just cannot dodge the issue any longer," he continued as other parishioners broke into applause and some began shouting "shut your mouth" at their parish priest.

It was a raucously rebellious start to a week in which the disclosure of hundreds of cases of alleged clerical sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church's European heartlands shook the allegiances of millions and forced their pastors to make unprecedented admissions of guilt and mortification.

In Armagh on St Patrick's Day the primate of All Ireland, Sean Brady, told the congregation in his cathedral that the clergy should admit,

"the full truth of our sinfulness".

Brady, who in 1975 was involved in the swearing to silence of two young victims of Ireland's most notorious clerical pedophile, was one of scores of prelates bowing their heads in disgrace in the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland and Italy.

So far almost 700 new cases have come to light. It was a week of unmitigated calamity for Benedict XVI, who became pope pledging to shore up Christianity in an increasingly secular Europe.

"It is such a big story because everything about it is extreme," says the religious affairs author and journalist Clifford Longley. "It is the worst crisis for the Vatican since the middle ages."

Longley believes the Catholic church is embedded in European history like nothing else.

"It claims divine foundation. The pope's title of Vicar of Christ means he still claims to represent supernatural power. It has been loved and hated, with passion and sometimes loathing. It dominated the middle ages, launched the Crusades, triggered the Reformation; the Enlightenment was a direct reaction against it."

The topic of child sexual abuse provokes strong emotions, even more so when people learn of the steps taken to conceal it. Nowhere has this veil of secrecy been lifted higher than in the Irish Republic, the focus of three reports since 1994.

At the start of the millennium the Catholic church in England and Wales commissioned Lord Nolan to investigate priestly abuse. It resulted in measures to improve child protection policies and reporting procedures, but did little or nothing to address or repair the damage of past abuse.

The 2007 Cumberlege commission reviewed the church response to the Nolan report, but only two of its 72 recommendations dealt specifically with historic cases. This oversight is something support groups are all too aware of and there are demands for a UK inquiry.

Graham Wilmer, who runs the Lantern Project which has helped hundreds of sexual abuse victims since 2003, said:

"The psychological and emotional damage has affected them throughout their lives. Until they made contact with us, they have had little if any help in dealing with the aftermath."

Wilmer was sexually abused by a teacher at a Catholic school and spent years trying to bring his tormentor to justice. He wants the British government to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to address the issue.

Longley says the scandal,

"brings into contrast the priest as man of God, symbol of purity and holiness and the sexual abuse of children as the ultimate betrayal of innocence, representing unspeakable evil. And conspiracy in high places to hide the scandal. No novelist could have invented such a plot."

In spite of earning outright condemnation for its clumsy attempts to sweep matters under the carpet, the church will probably overcome these difficult times. Unlike the Anglican Communion, which buckles under the weight of polarized opinion on homosexuality, the Catholic church always emerges, not entirely unscathed, from adversity.

Longley says the church survived Nazism, Fascism and Communism and will outlast the EU (European Union), the UN (United Nations), the US.

"Bad though this crisis is, it has survived much worse. At the start of the 16th century the Vatican was little better than a shit-hole."

The question remains why this situation should be judged so grave when the numbers involved are smaller than in the US, where a 2004 report found evidence in support of almost 7,000 allegations.

One possible answer is the cumulative effect of abuse in so many countries.


The crisis has spread from the US to Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and now the German-speaking heart of Europe. Not the least of the difficulties is financial. The church has already had to find some $5bn (3.3bn) in compensation and now faces the prospect of having to fund more compensation, settlements and legal fees at the same time as disgusted Catholics stop their contributions.

Giancarlo Galli, the Italian author of Finanza Bianca, a study of the Vatican's finances, said:

"There is nothing less transparent than the accounts of the church. It is known that with all the troubles in the US, the church was very much looking north, across the Alps, and above all to Bavaria, for support."

It has even been suggested that some of the cardinals who elected the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope cast their votes with one eye on the material benefits of having a German pontiff.

This is scarcely the first crisis involving what an Australian victims' group, Broken Rites, has termed black-collar crime. But never before has a scandal cast doubts on the judgment and authority of a pope.

So far the debate has focused on his role in the Peter Hullermann affair. Hullermann was transferred to the Munich diocese when Ratzinger was archbishop, ostensibly for therapy. Though known to be a pedophile, he was moved to a parish where he was convicted of abusing another child.

Christian Weisner, the spokesman for the lay movement, Wir sind Kirche, said that in Munich:

"People are asking: 'What did [Benedict] know? What did he do?'"

Many Catholics in Bavaria and elsewhere were ready to accept the diocese's version - that the decision to reassign Hullerman was made by Ratzinger's deputy.


But Weisner added:

"The pope is asking for transparency. So he too should be transparent and ask his successor to open the archives for people to see exactly what happened."

The issue of Benedict's responsibility goes far beyond Munich to encompass his subsequent role as pope.

Weisner argues that this pope,

"learned more about clerical sex abuse than any other bishop or cardinal and has done more to fight it than any other cardinal or pope".

But there is a sharp distinction between his attitude while a cardinal and his activities as pope that could yet leave an indelible stain on the reign of Benedict XVI.

In 2005 he was elected days after declaring that the time had come to sweep "the filth" from his church. By then he had read - and was disgusted by - files on more than 3,000 clerical abuse cases that were channeled to his department by a decree issued four years earlier by John Paul II.

Most of the cases dealt with by the Vatican department in recent years resulted in the accused being removed, if not defrocked.

The problem for Benedict is that, as in many other theological respects, he changed his mind. The US Vatican-watcher John Allen this week published in National Catholic Reporter an extract from the transcript of a conference in Spain that showed that, as late as November 2002, Ratzinger dismissed the American abuse scandals as the result of a "planned campaign" in the media.

By 2002 the then cardinal had signed what critics claim was an incitement to the obstruction of justice.


A letter he circulated to bishops the previous year reminded them that internal church inquiries into certain serious offences were covered by what is known as papal secrecy, for which the penalty is excommunication.

"The question is whether Ratzinger's past may trump Benedict's present," wrote Allen.

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Vatican Says Media In "Ignoble Attempt" to Smear Pope
by Philip Pullella
March 25, 2010

from Reuters Website

The Vatican on Thursday angrily attacked the media over its reporting of sexual abuse of children by priests, saying there was an "ignoble attempt"

to smear Pope Benedict "at any cost."


The editorial in a Vatican newspaper came on a day abuse victims protested near St Peter's Square to demand the pope open files on pedophile clerics and defrock "predator priests," and a cardinal spoke of a "conspiracy" against the church.

"The prevalent tendency in the media is to ignore the facts and stretch interpretations with the aim of spreading the picture of the Catholic Church as the only one responsible for sexual abuse, something which does not correspond to reality," the Vatican newspaper said.

There was,

"clearly an ignoble attempt to strike at Pope Benedict and his closest aides at any cost," it said.

The editorial challenged a New York Times report about the case of Rev. Lawrence Murphy, accused of sexually abusing up to 200 deaf boys in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s.

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 had been informed of the case.

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

The Vatican newspaper said:

"There was no cover-up in the case of Father Murphy."

The Vatican said earlier he was not disciplined because church laws do not require automatic punishment.

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.

On Thursday morning, four leaders of the U.S.-based, Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), all of whom were sexually abused by priests, held a protest and news conference outside the Vatican.

Holding up photos of themselves as children and signs reading "Stop the Secrecy Now," they demanded the pope open files on pedophile clerics worldwide and immediately defrock all "predator priests."

Italian police took their passports and led them away for questioning. They were held for two hours and later released, one of the group said.

The scandal of alleged cover-ups of abuse has come perilously close to the pope himself as victims say they want to know how he handled cases before his election in 2005. There have been allegations of a cover-up of abuse in Munich when he was the city's archbishop from 1977 to 1981.


Victims' groups have called for information on his decisions when he headed the Vatican doctrinal department from 1981 to 2005.

"The pope has said he is sorry," said John Pilmaier, a SNAP leader who was abused more than 30 years ago.

"But what the pope will not admit is what he knew and what the people inside the Vatican knew. He owes it to every survivor and their families to be honest with us and explain what happened behind those walls, what was covered up, and to finally tell us the truth," he said.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters, one of the pope's top aides, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, denounced what he called "a conspiracy" against the church.

"This is a pretext for attacking the church," he said. "There is a well-organized plan with a very clear aim," he said, without spelling out who was behind it.

Saraiva Martins said he was for zero tolerance of abuse, but could understand why some bishops covered up cases in the past.

"We should not be too scandalized if some bishops knew about it but kept it secret. This is what happens in every family, you don't wash your dirty laundry in public," he said.

He also accused lawyers of "wanting to make a lot of money" by digging up decades-old cases and filing lawsuits.

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Pope Faces Claims He Covered-Up German Sex Abuse Case
by Rob Crilly
26 Mar 2010

from Telegraph Website

The Pope faced fresh accusations of covering up child abuse yesterday as it emerged he was present at a meeting where Church officials decided to allow a pedophile priest to continue working.


The Vatican has defended the Pope over charges

that he failed to act against allegations of sex abuse


The allegations dating to his time as Archbishop of Munich came a day after he was accused of covering up attacks on up to 200 boys at a deaf school in the American state of Wisconsin.

The latest claims centered on how much he knew about a decision to allow a priest to resume pastoral duties in Germany in the 1980s.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he led a meeting that approved the transfer of Father Peter Hullermann to a new diocese, despite him being known to be a pedophile.

His office also received a copy of a memo explaining that Hullermann would return to pastoral work days after starting therapy. Hullermann went on to attack more children and was convicted of sexual abuse in 1986.

The revelations about the level of the Pope's involvement in the case appeared to cast doubt on the Catholic Church's previous account of the matter.

Earlier this month, Monsignor Gerhard Gruber, then Cardinal Ratzinger's deputy, said he took full responsibility for the decision to allow Hullermann to resume pastoral duties.

The Munich Archdiocese acknowledged that "bad mistakes" had been made, but attributed them to officials subordinate to Cardinal Ratzinger rather than to the cardinal himself.

Father Lorenz Wolf, judicial vicar at the Munich Archdiocese, said the memo was routine and,

"unlikely to have landed on the archbishop's desk".

Church officials transferred Father Hullermann to new parishes and allowed him to work with children, even after his conviction. He was finally suspended earlier this month as sex abuse allegations surfaced in Germany.

The claims came a day after the Pope was accused of personally covering up child sex abuse by halting an investigation into a Wisconsin priest suspected of molesting boys between 1950 and 1975. Victims said Father Lawrence Murphy had assaulted them in his office, his car and in their dormitory beds.

Cardinal Ratzinger, who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the body responsible for dealing with particularly grave sins - was alerted to the allegations in 1986 but the case was dropped after Murphy wrote directly to the future pontiff.

Yesterday, supporters attempted to rally round the Pope claiming there had been no cover up and accusations were being driven by malice.

A strongly-worded editorial in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, labeled the allegations,

"clearly an ignoble attempt to strike at Pope Benedict and his closest aides at any cost".

One of the Pope's top aides, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, said there was "a conspiracy" against the Church, without specifying who was responsible.

French bishops also published a letter of support to the Pope saying that they all felt "shame and regret over the abominable acts" of sex abuse against children by some Catholic priests.

"Those who commit these acts disfigure our church, hurt Christian communities and spread suspicion over all members of the clergy," they wrote.

Meanwhile, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales insisted the Pope was taking strong action to tackle it.


Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said there was no hiding place for those who abused children.

"The child abuse committed within the Roman Catholic Church and its concealment is deeply shocking and totally unacceptable," he wrote. "I am ashamed of what happened, and understand the outrage and anger it has provoked."

Earlier this month, the Pope issued an unprecedented Papal letter to Irish Catholics, designed to defuse the spiraling scandal over clerical abuse there.


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Pope Accused of Mishandling Case of German Pedophile Priest
by John Hooper in Rome and Stephen Bates
26 March 2010

from Guardian Website

Cardinal Ratzinger copied into memo transferring known pedophile to German Catholic parish where abuse continued, claims US paper


Pope Benedict XVI is facing the biggest crisis of his reign as pope.


Fresh revelations have been made directly implicating Pope Benedict XVI in mishandling the case of a pedophile priest in his former archdiocese of Munich.

According to the New York Times, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was copied in on a memo from his deputy in which the priest was transferred to parish duties in Bavaria that brought him into contact with children. As a result of that decision by the then vicar-general, Father Gerhard Gruber, the priest was able to continue abusing boys, for which he was later tried and convicted.

A spokesman for the archdiocese told the Guardian:

"The report does not contain false information, but the interpretation - that Cardinal Ratzinger knew - is pure speculation."

The spokesman added:

"I do not know if any copy [of the memo] exists. But it is a usual procedure that a decision about priests goes to the office of the archbishop. But it is not usual that he takes note of every written piece of paper; every decision of the vicar-general."

Father Peter Hullerman, who was known to be a pedophile, was originally moved to Munich to allow him to undergo therapy.


The future pope attended a meeting in January 1980 at which the transfer was agreed, the New York Times reported today. The paper said the reason for the priest's transfer was clear, even though not explicitly stated.

The allegations come a day after the Vatican responded angrily to the allegation that as a cardinal the pope had ignored an American diocese's request that another predatory priest should be defrocked.

Hullermann had been removed from his previous parish in September 1980 and did not deny the allegations made against him.


Correspondence at the end of that year referred to a formal request that he should be transferred for psychiatric treatment in Munich.



Although sexual abuse of boys was not explicitly mentioned in the letter from Essen, it stated:

"Reports from the congregation in which he was last active made us aware that Chaplain Hullermann presented a danger that caused us to immediately withdraw him from pastoral duties."

It warned of possible legal action but suggested that Hullermann could teach religion "at a girls' school".

A report, drawn up by one of Ratzinger's closest colleagues before the meeting, stated that a young chaplain needed "medical-psychotherapeutic treatment in Munich" and a place to live with "an understanding colleague".


It presented the priest from Essen as a,

"very talented man, who could be used in a variety of ways".

As soon as he arrived, however, Hullermann was placed in a parish where he continued to abuse boys before being convicted six years later.

The suggestion that the pope was more closely involved in the case than previously suggested followed allegations that while he was head of the congregation in Rome in the mid-1990s, he acceded to a plea from an American priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, not to be disciplined or defrocked for abusing as many as 200 deaf boys at a school where the chaplain taught between 1950 and 1974.


Murphy died a few months later and there have been allegations that earlier bishops in his US diocese had ignored the complaints against him and that the diocese tried to hush the matter up.

The continuing and spreading allegations are devastating for the authority and reputation of the church - the world's largest Christian denomination, with more than 1 billion adherents. Previously the Vatican has denied accusations that it has covered up systemic abuse by priests in many countries for decades in the interests of protecting its reputation.


It formerly blamed a handful of perverted priests and even suggested that abuse was a problem of the church in "Anglo-Saxon" countries, including the Irish diaspora.

The pope has apologized for the way the church handled allegations without accepting any personal responsibility for his actions in Munich nor during his 24 years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.


But the accusations are getting closer to him all the time.

The Vatican's spokesman, attempting to stem the relentless tide of allegations that the church - and now the pope himself - covered up or dismissed complaints against clergy pedophiles in the 1980s and 90s, complained about an,

"obvious and ignoble attempt to strike at all costs Benedict and his closest collaborators".

A statement published in the official Vatican daily paper, L'Osservatore Romano, said:

"The prevalent tendency in the media is to gloss over the facts and force interpretations with the aim of spreading an image of the Catholic church almost as if it were the only [institution] responsible for sexual abuses."

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that Cardinal Sen Brady, the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, will shortly offer his resignation following accusations that as a young priest he took part in a cover-up and the silencing of victims of a pedophile priest there.


The cardinal has apologized, but has so far resisted calls that he should go.


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Did The Pope Shield Pedophile Priest?

"Cover-Up" Over Curate's Abuse of 200 Deaf Children
by Steve Doughty
26 March 2010

from Dailymail Website

The Pope has been accused of failing to act against a known pedophile priest.

The claim that Pope Benedict XVI covered-up the case of an American curate who abused 200 deaf children sent shockwaves through the Vatican. Correspondence published between U.S. bishops and the future pontiff in the 1990s apparently show that he ignored their pleas for him to act.

The allegations, coming in the wake of a series of sex scandals besetting the Roman Catholic church, is a crippling blow to his status and brings the whiff of scandal to his door.

Yesterday the Vatican strenuously denied the claims, insisting there was 'an 'ignoble attempt' to smear Pope Benedict 'at any cost'.


The Pope blesses his audience in St Peter's Square during his weekly address on Wednesday

Father Lawrence Murphy, the alleged pedophile, is said to have abused 200 pupils while heading a school for the deaf in Wisconsin from 1950 to 1974.

According to the New York Times, the case was referred by U.S. church leaders to the Vatican in 1996.

At the time the disciplinary division in Rome, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was led by the man who is now Pope and was then known as Cardinal Ratzinger.

Two letters about the case from senior clergy in the U.S. were ignored, it was reported.


Cardinal Ratzinger's deputy then told them to begin a disciplinary hearing against Murphy.

Child abuse row:

The Reverend Lawrence Murphy's abuse of deaf boys was reported to the Vatican by Archbishop Rembert Weakland

However, the priest then wrote to the Cardinal saying he had had a stroke and 'repented my past transgressions'. He begged to be allowed to live out his life 'in the dignity of my priesthood'.

Documents suggest the future Pope failed to respond. However, proceedings against Murphy, who died in 1998 still a priest, were halted.

It is alleged that he also abused children in other institutions.

The U.S. accusation comes on top of complaints of a cover-up of abuse cases in Germany between 1977 and 1981 when the Pope was Archbishop of Munich. Pope Benedict is said to have failed to either take action against priests involved in abuse or to pass information to police.

The Holy See has also been haunted for months by allegations that the Church sought to cover up child abuse by priests in Europe, including in Ireland.

The Pope has already written a landmark letter of apology to Irish Catholics this week.

Yesterday a Vatican statement acknowledged that the Murphy case,

'involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did'.

But it added that the complaints had been sent to it more than two decades after they had been known to the Catholic authorities in Wisconsin and to local police.

The statement claimed that because Murphy was elderly, in poor health and living in seclusion - and because 'no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years', Rome had suggested that U.S. bishops consider restricting his public activities and requiring he 'accept full responsibility' for his acts.

A senior Papal aide said yesterday the allegations were part of a conspiracy against Rome.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins said that while he was in favor of zero tolerance, he accused lawyers of hoping to make money out of abuse allegations.


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Pope Hit By Abuse Claims in Italian School
by Richard Owen in Rome
March 27 2010

from Independent Website

The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church came to the Pope's doorstep last night as a group of victims appeared on Italian television to claim that two dozen priests had for decades abused children at a school for the deaf in Verona.

Three former pupils of the Antonio Provolo school who spoke on RAI, the state broadcaster, confirmed allegations made in a signed statement last year by 67 former students who described a regime of sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment from the 1950s to the 1980s. They said that 24 priests and lay brothers from the Company of Mary order were involved.

The three said the priests had "fondled and masturbated" them as well as sodomizing them in dormitories, bathrooms and the priests' quarters.

Among the accused is Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro, who was Bishop of Verona from 1958 to 1978, and who the local diocese has sought to have beatified. Gianni Bisoli, one of the victims, told the Associated Press last year that Bishop Carraro, who died in 1981, had molested him five times.

The current Bishop of Verona, Mgr Giuseppe Zenti, initially accused the former students of "hallucinating". However, the diocese had to open an inquiry after one of the accused lay brothers admitted to sexual relations with pupils.

Last summer the diocese forwarded its files on the abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took no action until last month when Cardinal William Levada, Pope Benedict's successor as head of the congregation, agreed it was "opportune to proceed" with an inquiry.

Bruno Fasani, spokesman for the Verona Diocese, said it had not taken action earlier because it had not known how to contact the victims. Marco Lodi Rizzini, spokesman for the victims, dismissed this, saying he had personally spoken to Bishop Zenti twice about the accusations and sent him details.

The case echoes a scandal in the United States in which the Pope has been accused of failing to take action against a priest who molested 200 boys at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin.

The 'New York Times' this week revealed that a church prosecution of Fr Lawrence Murphy for sex offences between 1950 and 1974 was halted after he appealed to Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office charged with disciplining clergy.

The Italian Bishops Conference said yesterday that it was forming a "task force" to collect evidence of pedophilia cases.

The church's account of what Benedict had known about a pedophile priest in Germany was called into question yesterday.


Fr Peter Hullermann was given sanctuary in 1980 in the Munich Diocese for "therapy" after molesting a boy. A memo, the existence of which was confirmed by two German church officials, showed that Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop of Munich, not only led a meeting on January 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest from Essen, but that he was also kept informed of the priest's subsequent reassignment.

It remains unclear whether he played any part in the decisions or whether he had read the memo addressed to him. Hullermann was convicted of sexual abuse in 1986.

Now 61, he was suspended this month from his post in the Bavarian town of Bad Tolz for breaking a promise not to have contact with children and young people.

The leaders of the conservative Catholic order, the Legionnaries of Christ, added to the grim news yesterday, expressing their "pain and regret" to the victims of Fr Marcial Maciel, of Mexico, the order's late founder, over revelations that he led a double life for decades, molesting seminarians.


He died two years ago, aged 87.

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Pope Faces Fresh Wave of Child Abuse Scandals in Italy
by Tom Kington in Rome and Henry McDonald in Dublin

28 March 2010
from Guardian Website


The head of the Catholic church is bracing himself for a new round of allegations by victims of pedophile priests - in Italy



Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger handled abuse cases for 24 years before becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

Photograph: Max Rossi/REUTERS

Pope Benedict XVI is facing growing pressure over his handling of pedophile priests as new cover-ups come to light in Italy, the country with the greatest concentration of Roman Catholic clerics.

After the latest allegations - that Benedict took no action in the US when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer - the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group.

"With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mirabile yesterday.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years before he became pope in 2005.

"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mirabile added.

Sergio Cavaliere, an Italian lawyer who has documented 130 cases of clerical pedophilia, also believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations.

"The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Cavaliere. "And in no single case did the local bishop alert police to the suspected abuse."

Another startling development is how recent most of the allegations are, unlike the decades-old cases in Munich and Milwaukee that Benedict was last week accused of failing to act on.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who investigates abuse accusations passed on to the Vatican, denied this month that abuse had reached "dramatic proportions" in Italy, but he was concerned about "a certain culture of silence" among Italy's 50,000 priests.

In February, the Vatican opened an investigation into allegations by 67 former pupils at a school for the deaf in Verona that 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men abused pupils from the 1950s to the 1980s. Three of the accusers repeated their claims on Italian prime-time television on Friday.

In a case recalling the accusations against Father Lawrence Murphy in Milwaukee, who was claimed to have abused up to 200 deaf children, one Italian former pupil claimed that priests had sodomized him so relentlessly that he came to feel "as if I were dead".

A second pupil has accused Verona's late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro, who is being considered for beatification, of molesting him.

In Ireland, the leader of the Catholic church has been named in more than 200 civil actions by victims of alleged clerical abuse, putting him under further pressure to resign. The victims claim that Cardinal Sen Brady failed in his duties by neglecting to protect them from pedophile priests and other sex abusers. There is no suggestion that he took part in any abuse.

Legal sources in the republic confirmed that 230 separate victims of alleged clerical abuse are taking the church to court. They said these include five victims of Father Brendan Smyth, one of Ireland's most notorious pedophiles.

Smyth's arrest and conviction opened the floodgates for dozens of cases concerning priests abusing children in dioceses all over Ireland, alongside widespread and systemic abuse in church-run orphanages and industrial schools.

Brady has confirmed that he was present at a closed canonical tribunal into the activities of Smyth, who died in jail 13 years ago while serving 12 years for 74 sexual assaults on children.

"Smyth's victims will argue that the church knew as far back as 1975 that he was abusing children. But the hierarchy's secret deal with two of his young victims that year left Smyth free to abuse others many years afterwards," one senior legal source told the Observer.

"The cardinal now faces being named in hundreds of cases, some of which will go through the courts."

Asked if the church was aware that Brady had been named in so many civil actions through the Irish courts, a spokesman for the Catholic Press Office in Ireland said:

"The bishop who occupies the position of primate of all Ireland [Brady] is often named as co-defendant in judicial proceedings by people who mistakenly presume him to be the 'CEO' for the Catholic church in Ireland. In answer to your query, I do not know the exact number of cases taken by alleged victims of clerical sex abuse who have named Cardinal Sen Brady in their actions."

Voice of the Faithful, an international lay Catholic organization campaigning for reforms in the church, said it was "deeply significant" that Brady has said he is spending the run-up to Easter reflecting on his position.

Sen O'Connaill, the group's Irish coordinator, said:

"The situation regarding the church in Ireland and Cardinal Brady's position is very confused and fluid."

"The problems facing the Catholic church, however, will not be resolved alone by heads rolling. Both the people and the leadership have to realize that there has to be a major reform program within the church to turn this around."

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Pope Dismisses "Petty Gossip" of Sexual Abuse Allegations
by Tom Kington in Rome
28 March 2010

from Guardian Website


In Palm Sunday address pope says faith in 'God' leads 'towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated'


Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims as he arrives at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican to celebrate Palm Sunday mass.

Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict, facing the worst crisis of his papacy as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Catholic church, declared today he would not be "intimidated" by "petty gossip", angering activists who say he has done too little to stamp out pedophilia.

Addressing crowds in St Peter's square during a Palm Sunday service, the pope did not directly mention the scandal spreading though Europe and engulfing the Vatican, but alluded to it during his sermon.


Faith in God, he said, led,

"towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".

As Benedict spoke, the president of Switzerland, Doris Leuthard, called for a central register of pedophile priests to keep them away from children. In Austria, the archbishop of Vienna announced the creation of a commission funded by the church, but without church representatives, to look into Austrian abuse claims.

Benedict came under attack after it was revealed that he had been involved in dealing with two cases of abuse.

  • In the first a German priest in therapy for pedophilia returned to work with children while the pope was archbishop of Munich.

  • In the second, in the late 1990s when Benedict was a senior Vatican figure, his deputy stopped a church trial against a Wisconsin priest accused of abusing deaf boys.

Church officials say Benedict was unaware the German priest had returned to work and the Wisconsin case was reported to the Vatican 20 years after the fact.

The Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, has accused the media of a,

"clear and ignoble intent of trying to strike Benedict and his closest collaborators".

But activists said they were angered by Benedict's talk of intimidation today.

"I hope this doesn't fit into a pattern where the media is to be blamed," said Sean O'Conaill of Voice of the Faithful, a group that has campaigned for abuse victims.


"The real courage needed here is to face issues the media has revealed."

A letter from the pope to Irish Catholics apologized for abuse by priests in Ireland but did not specify punishments for Irish bishops who covered up for their crimes.

"The evidence of Benedict's knowledge of abuse is mounting," said Maeve Lewis, the Irish director for the child abuse campaign group One in Four. "The problem here is the protection of children and whether the pope has the credible leadership to push the church towards that."

About 30 protesters waved placards stating "Pope Protects Pedophile Priests - Resign!" outside Westminster Cathedral in London today.

A prayer read during mass at St Peter's in Rome today asked God to help "the young and those who work to educate and protect them". In his sermon, Benedict said man could sometimes "fall to the lowest, vulgar levels" and "sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty".

Yesterday, the Vatican appeared to backtrack on talk of a media plot, claiming that the church's response to the scandal would be "crucial for its moral credibility".


A spokesman noted that most of the cases now emerging occurred decades ago.

But activists in Italy are building a list of more recent scandals and plan legal action against a bishop over alleged abuse in 2001. Father Ruggero Conti is standing trial, suspected of molesting 30 children.


Interviewed by a magistrate in 2008, Gino Reali, the bishop who oversaw Conti's parish, said he had ignored complaints,

"because you hear so many rumors".

"If this priest is convicted, I plan to press charges against the bishop for aiding and abetting," said Nino Marazzita, a lawyer and anti-pedophilia campaigner.

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