You never would have seen this happen in the old days. Like fourteen years ago.
According to the documentation uncovered by the associated press, the timetable:
- Between 1950 and 1975: The accused is said to have molested about two-hundred deaf children.
- July 1996: the Milwaukee archbishop sent a letter to the CDF head seeking advice.
- October 1996: hearing nothing from the CDF, a church tribunal was convened.
- March 1997: advice sought by Milwaukee from the Apostolic Signatura, regarding the possible expiration of the statute of limitations.
- April 1997: The Vatican Secretary of State told Milwaukee to begin secret disciplinary proceedings against Murphy according to 1962 norms concerning soliciting sex in the confessional
- 1998: The accused had written to the CDF head, and the Sec of State then advised Milwaukee to stop the canonical proceedings.
- 1998: The bishop responsible for the case objected, “I have come to the conclusion that scandal cannot be sufficiently repaired, nor justice sufficiently restored, without a judicial trial against (the accused).”
- May 1998: When the Milwaukee bishops met with the Sec of State in Rome, they pressed on the issue, and were then told to send the offender on a retreat to see is he was truly repentant. If not, then defrock, they were told.
Granted, the accused was no longer in a position to harm children in 1998. I can’t really buy into the blood lust, even to see a child abuser prosecuted for the sake of revenge. That said, it is remarkable that the CDF head would seem to ignore two bishops and instead consider the plea of an accused molester.
Has Pope Benedict had a change of heart in the past twelve years? I believe he is a sincere and holy man, so I have little doubt that he did. No disciple of Jesus Christ could read these reports, listen to victims, and confront bishops and not be moved by the plight of those so severely injured. If reporters think this will bring down a pope, I think they are whistling in a strong wind. It’s not going to happen. Nor should it.
That the Catholic hierarchy was mostly indifferent to the suffering of innocents, and conned by the grooming of sex predators in the clergy: this is not surprising. A sensible course of action would be to seek the counsel of psychologists trained in addiction to put into place procedures to guard the accused and give them fair hearings, but also to protect bishops against the system of co-dependency they have fostered by their secrecy and other dysfunctional behaviors.