Vatican declined to defrock U.S. priest who abused boys

Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times reports today: 'Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys
By Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times

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 internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

RC child abuse was made subject to the 'pontifical secret'
Ruth Gledhill, of the London Times writes:

Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times reports today: '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.

. . .

Even though the letter has been written about before, it is being examined again in light of the floods of allegations coming out from Europe and the US.

The whole affair threatens to cast a shadow over the Pope's visit here in September. A film about celibacy and the priesthood, Conspiracy of Silence, will be launched a couple of days before the visit. And this Sunday, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and the new Protest the Pope group are organising a demonstration outside Westminster Cathedral.

Comments (7)

This story makes me weep. My wife, who is deaf, taught for a time at St. John's, under the supervision of this priest. All these abuse cases are tragedies, but this is a particularly vulnerable population who were failed at every turn. How can a deaf Catholic ever again believe that their church really cares about them? If it comes down to justice or avoidance of scandal, we know what the church hierarchy is going to do.

L. Poulain

I recall something about millstones and the depths of the sea.

Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? — Juvenal, Sat. VI

I'm very mild mannered, but I yelled and nearly through the TV remote at the TV when I just saw the report that the Vatican is calling the NYT report part of a concerted smear campaign against this pope and the Catholic Church.

Here's one story covering today's vatican reaction,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/25/pope-accused-sparing-priest-suspected-sex-abuse

quote/

The Vatican angrily denounced the latest accusation in what it sees as a campaign to smear the pope, and said the church was being unfairly portrayed as the only institution with such a sinister history.

In a statement published on its front page, the Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, lambasted the international media for an "obvious and ignoble attempt to strike, at all costs, Benedict and his closest collaborators". It 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."
...
/unquote

Gee, I would have avoided the use of the word "collaborators" in this context.

The defense from L'Osservatore is ethically base. Talk about "glossing over" -- isn't that what they are accused of doing -- and falling back on "Well, we're not the only abusers!" Appalling, and revelatory of how these things happened in the first place. Denial, denial, denial.

The cultures of deception and inability to accept responsibility are sad to see in a secular figure -- how much worse in one supposedly responsible for maintaining high moral standards.

I was a Jesuit seminarian for 9 years and can attest to a still extant clerical culture wherein there was so much more concern over the state of Fr. Murphy's (the serial child rapist) soul than the deaf children victims' broken souls. This culture believes priests are only subject to superior Church law. Notice how civil authorities are only informed of these crimes after the statute of limitations has expired.

ministryman - please sign your name next time. thanks ed.

Tobias,
I think it's a rather unfortunate translation and not intended in the sense that Americans understand the word. Here in Montreal, the words "collaboration" and "collaborator" appear almost daily in the English press and in English statements from City Hall, as false cognates for the French "collaboration" and "collaborateur", for which a more precise English translation is "cooperate". Perhaps it's the same in Italian.

However, sometimes there is truth in such slips.

Indeed, Jim, I was aware of this being a translational slip. The proper word in American English for one who works with you is "colleague" -- but as you note, the slip is telling, in this case!

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