New Abuse Allegations Land Close to the Pope

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims on his arrival in St. Peter's square (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images/Getty)

When Pope Benedict XVI was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he did not defrock a priest who allegedly molested as many as 200 deaf boys over the course of decades, according to records obtained by The New York Times

The Times obtained internal Vatican communications that show several bishops had been told of the behavior of Father Lawrence Murphy of Wisconsin and did nothing for many years. When they finally did forward the matter to the Vatican it was to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. The office never required a canonical trial that could have led to the defrocking of Father Murphy. Instead he was moved to another diocese where he continued to have regular interaction with children in schools, the parish and even a juvenile detention center.

New York Times national religion correspondent, Laurie Goodstein, uncovered the documents and reports on what this means for the Vatican and the Pope himself. Also, since this happened more than a decade ago, has the Catholic Church changed? Are they taking more actions now?

We also speak with Walter Robinson, who led the Boston Globe's investigative unit which documented in 2002 and 2003 sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiocese. The coverage won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.


Laurie Goodstein and Walter Robinson

Produced by:

Alex Goldmark and Marine Olivesi

Comments [6]

Sean from Miami, Florida

While I understand that it takes time to investigate, what is evident is the pattern.

Allegations are brought against a priest, oftentimes numerous allegations, and the church begins an internal investigation. Many of these internal investigations have resulted in priests being reassigned to other like parishes, with the priests still being in contact with similar parishioners.

Years later, after the statutes of limitations have expired, these priests are exposed, as are the cover-ups, as the too-young-to-defend themselves gain their ability to raise their voice, overcome their shame and speak out.

The pattern is abuse occurrence, report, cover-up and transfer, wait until the parishioners get older and speak up, and then the proverbial "stuff" hits the fan. This time, the cover-up appears to have reached the "infallible" top.

Now what?

The Church would be wise to turn these investigations over to the local police AS SOON AS THE ABUSE IS REPORTED. Let the local authorities conduct an unimpeded investigation, and if these priests get arrested, they get arrested. The church can then deal with their own internal defrocking process, if they so choose... but at least the investigations are out in the open, transparent, and handled as they should be - as criminal investigations.

Mar. 25 2010 01:48 PM
Ed H. from Larchmont

You should also know that there have been innocent priests accused: it takes time to investigate.

Mar. 25 2010 09:13 AM
Ed H. from Larchmont

At that time the Church was having mercy on the laity who committed homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and even abortion. How could they not have mercy and give a second chance when a priest came before them, and they believed they could be reformed?

Mar. 25 2010 09:12 AM
Ed H. from Larchmont

For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered among the criminals; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled."

Mar. 25 2010 09:03 AM
larry the junkman

What the frock does it take to get rid of a child molester in the Catholic Church? Come on Pope!

Mar. 25 2010 08:07 AM
Ed H. from Larchmont

Boy, you really love bashing the Church. Anyone report on the large sexual abuse crime on Long Island last week? Nope, didn't think so.

Mar. 25 2010 08:00 AM

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