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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
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.
VATICAN CITY -- Victims of sexual abuse by priests demonstrated at the Vatican on Thursday demanding that Pope Benedict open up files on paedophile Catholic clerics worldwide and immediately defrock all "predator priests".
Four leaders of the U.S.-based Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), all of whom were sexually abused by priests, including being raped and sodomised, held up photos of themselves as children and signs reading "Stop the Secrecy Now".
Cardinal Saraiva Martins said that while he was in favour of zero tolerance now, he could understand why some bishops covered up cases of child abuse in the past.
He also accused lawyers of "wanting to make a lot of money" by digging up decades-old cases and filing law suits.
Despite the extensive and grave allegations against Murphy, Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the allegations of abuse were made far too late and that Murphy - then ailing and elderly - should instead repent and be restricted from celebrating Mass outside his diocese.
The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.
Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy
As for the numerous reports about the case of Father Murphy, the back-story has not been reported as of yet.
In 1996, I was introduced to the story of Father Murphy, formerly the principal of St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. It had been common knowledge for decades that during Father Murphy’s tenure at the school (1950-1974) there had been a scandal at St. John’s involving him and some deaf children. The details, however, were sketchy at best.
Courageous advocacy on behalf of the victims (and often their wives), led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to revisit the matter in 1996. In internal discussions of the curia for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, it became obvious that we needed to take strong and swift action with regard to the wrongs of several decades ago. With the consent of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, we began an investigation into the allegations of child sexual abuse as well as the violation of the crime of solicitation within the confessional by Father Murphy.
We proceeded to start a trial against Father Murphy. I was the presiding judge in this matter and informed Father Murphy that criminal charges were going to be levied against him with regard to child sexual abuse and solicitation in the confessional.
In my interactions with Father Murphy, I got the impression I was dealing with a man who simply did not get it. He was defensive and threatening.
Between 1996 and August, 1998, I interviewed, with the help of a qualified interpreter, about a dozen victims of Father Murphy. These were gut-wrenching interviews. In one instance the victim had become a perpetrator himself and had served time in prison for his crimes. I realized that this disease is virulent and was easily transmitted to others. I heard stories of distorted lives, sexualities diminished or expunged. These were the darkest days of my own priesthood, having been ordained less than 10 years at the time. Grace-filled spiritual direction has been a Godsend.
I also met with a community board of deaf Catholics. They insisted that Father Murphy should be removed from the priesthood and highly important to them was their request that he be buried not as a priest but as a layperson. I indicated that a judge, I could not guarantee the first request and could only make a recommendation to the latter request.
In the summer of 1998, I ordered Father Murphy to be present at a deposition at the chancery in Milwaukee. I received, soon after, a letter from his doctor that he was in frail health and could travel not more than 20 miles (Boulder Junction to Milwaukee would be about 276 miles). A week later, Father Murphy died of natural causes in a location about 100 miles from his home.
Read more: Catholic Anchor
Anti-Catholicism and the Times
That diabolical priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, was assigned to St. John’s School for the Deaf in 1950, before Joseph Ratzinger was even ordained.
Reports of his abuse of the deaf children surfaced in the 1950s. But, under three archbishops, nothing was done. Police and prosecutors were alerted by parents of the boys. Nothing was done.
Weakland, who became archbishop in 1977, did not write to Rome until 1996.
And as John Allen of National Catholic Reporter noted last week, Cardinal Ratzinger “did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001. … Prior to 2001, Ratzinger had nothing personally to do with the vast majority of sex abuse cases, even the small percentage which wound up in Rome.”
By the time Cardinal Ratzinger was commissioned by John Paul II to clean out the stable, Murphy had been dead for three years.
In Goodstein’s piece, Weakland is a prelate who acted too slowly. The controversy over his clouded departure from the Milwaukee archdiocese is mentioned and passed over at the bottom of the story. It belonged higher.
For Weakland was a homosexual who confessed in a 1980 letter he was in “deep love” with a male paramour who shook down the archbishop for $450,000 in church funds as hush money to keep his lover’s mouth shut about their squalid affair.
According to Rod Dreher, Weakland moved Father William Effinger, who would die in prison, from parish to parish, knowing Effinger was a serial pederast.
When one of Effinger’s victims sued the archdiocese but lost because of a statute of limitations, Weakland counter-sued and extracted $4,000 from the victim of his predator priest.
Dreher describes Weakland’s tenure thus:
“He directed Catholic schools … to teach kids how to use condoms as part of AIDS education and approved a graphic sex-education program for parochial-school kids that taught ‘there is no right and wrong’ on the issues of abortion, contraception and premarital sex. He has advocated for gay rights and women’s ordination, bitterly attacked Pope John Paul II, denounced pro-lifers as ‘fundamentalist’ and declared that one could be both pro-choice and a Catholic in good standing.”
Speaking of sex-abuse victims in 1988, Weakland was quoted: “Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often streetwise.”
Read more: Buchanan.org
It was not with regard to sexual abuse by priests, but specifically with regard to the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation. You can read it here:
Crimen Sollicitationi PDF
It's a document governing the ecclesiastical prosecution in ecclesiastical courts of priests who commit the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation. It stresses that someone who is witness to the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation is obliged to report it to the competent ecclesiastical authority so that this ecclesiastical crime of solication does not remain hidden. The ecclesiastical crime of solicitation relates specifically to the Sacrament of Penance where a priest in connection with the Sacrament seduces the penitent or allows himself to be seduced by the penitent. It's not about the sexual abuse of minors as the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation relates only to the Sacrament of Penance and can involve adults as well as minors. If you look up the word "solicitation" in a regular dictionary, you won't find the definition in there as it is ecclesiastical "jargon"
This is really weird. Given how reluctant the Church is to impose excommunication on anyone, especially laypeople, for anything but the most serious reason, I find this nearly impossible to believe. Does anyone have any solid information on this?
The ecclesiastical crime of solicitation is very serious as it is an abuse of the Sacrament of Penance. That's why laypeople were obliged to report it. You should keep in mind that at the same time it is important to protect the reputation of a priest who may be innocent.
You should also keep in mind that many if not most or even the vast majority of cases of the ecclesiastical crime of solication wouldn't be a crime under civil law. Let me just give you one such hypothetical, simplified example: Suppose a priest hears the confession of a 30 year old woman. The 30 year old woman during the confession tells the priest: "Father, let's have a one night stand." The priest instead of saying, "No that is wrong" says, "OK let's do it tonight" then by that very fact the priest would be guilty of the ecclesiastical crime of solicitation. As you can see this is grossly misreported in the secular media due to their wilful ignorance and hatred of the Catholic faith and of Jesus Christ.
Read more: Catholic Answers
How the Nazis engineered a paedophile priests scare
“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”
An editorial from a great secular newspaper in 2010? No: It’s a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. This speech, which had a large international echo, was the apex of a campaign launched by the Nazi regime to discredit the Catholic Church by involving it in a scandal of pedophile priests.
Two hundred and seventy-six religious and forty-nine diocesan priests were arrested in 1937. The arrests took place in all the German dioceses, in order to keep the scandals on the front pages of the newspapers.
On March 10, 1937, with the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) condemned the Nazi ideology. At the end of the same month, the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda headed by Goebbels launched a campaign against the sexual abuses of priests. The design and administration of this campaign are known to historians thanks to documents which tell a story worthy of the best spy novels.
The expression “moral panic” was only coined by sociologists in the 1970s to identify a social alarm created artificially, by amplifying real facts and exaggerating their numbers through statistical folklore, as well as “discovering” and presenting as “new” events which in reality are already known and which date to the past. There are real events at the base of the panic, but their number is systematically distorted.
Even without the benefit of modern sociology, Goebbels responded to the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge in 1937 with a textbook case of the creation of a moral panic.
As always in moral panics, the facts are not totally invented. Prior to the encyclical there were some cases in Germany of abuse of minors. Mariaux himself considered a religious in the school of Bad Reichenall guilty, as well as a lay teacher, a gardener and a janitor, who were condemned in 1936, although he believed the sanction imposed by the Ministry of Public Instruction in Bavaria – revoking the authorization to run scholastic institutes of four religious orders – to be entirely disproportionate, and he linked it to the desire of the regime to undercut Catholic schools. Also in the case of the Franciscans of Waldbreitbach, in Rhineland, Mariaux was open to the hypothesis that the accused were guilty, although later historians have not excluded the possibility that they were framed by the Nazis.
The cases, which were few, but real, produced a very strong reaction from the episcopate. On June 2, 1936, the Bishop of Münster – Blessed Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), who was the soul of Catholic resistance to Nazism, and who was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI – had a declaration read at all the Sunday Masses in which he expressed “pain and sadness” for these “abominable crimes” that “cover our Holy Church with ignominy.” On August 20, 1936, after the events at Waldbreitbach, the German episcopate published a joint pastoral letter in which they “several condemned” those responsible and underlined the cooperation of the Church with the tribunals of the state.
By the end of 1936, the severe measures taken by the German bishops in reaction to these very few cases, some of which were doubtful, seemed to have resolved the real problems. Quietly, the bishops also pointed out that among teachers in the state schools and in the very youth organization of the regime, the Hitler Youth, the cases of condemnations for sexual abuses were much more numerous than among the Catholic clergy.
It was the anti-Nazi encyclical of Pius XI that led to the great campaign of 1937. Mariaux proved it publishing highly detailed instructions sent by Goebbels to the Gestapo, the political police of the Third Reich, and above all to journalists, just a few days after the publication of Mit brennender Sorge, inviting them to “reopen” the cases from 1936 and also older cases, constantly recalling them to public opinion. Goebbels also ordered the Gestapo to find witnesses willing to accuse a certain number of priests, threatening them with immediate arrest if they didn’t collaborate, even if they were children.
Read more: Mercatornet