Fast Vatican Response

You never would have seen this happen in the old days. Like fourteen years ago.

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, director of the Vatican press office, released a statement responding to the seeming indifference of Cardinal Ratzinger to a CDF case on a serial child molester.

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.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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8 Responses to Fast Vatican Response

  1. Rosie says:

    “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.”

    But isn’t this exactly what DID happen? In the face of such egregious acts and obvious cover-ups, he clearly did read the reports and hear from victims…. and did nothing. Repeatedly. My outrage over this is indescribable. I am no longer sure how I can raise my children within this church; surely so far removed from what Jesus had intended.

  2. Liam says:

    News flash: Bill Donohue has already expressed umbrage, with more to follow by buying an ad in the NY Times next Tuesday. Bill and the Times are so co-dependent.

  3. Sam Schmitt says:

    Just some facts to put this in perspective:

    My understanding is that at that time (late 1990s) the CDF had no power to laicize a priest or waive the statute of limitations. These were granted only in 2002 – at the instigation of Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Also, the abuse was reported to the Vatican 20 years after the accusations surfaced. By this time the civil authorities had long since dropped the case.

  4. Todd says:

    Sam, I suppose that for me it’s curious that the CDF wasn’t forthcoming with advice about this, at least not until they heard from the accused. Are they there to serve, to give advice to bishops when asked?

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    “The idea that Christianity enthrones forgiveness in place of justice and teaches universal forgiveness is a gross misunderstanding. ..Even while insisting on the imperative to forgive, Jesus mentions admonition and repentance: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and IF HE REPENTS, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I REPENT,’ you must forgive him” (Lk. 17:3-4).”

    WHEN TO FORGIVE, Avery Dulles, America Magazine 10/7/2002 http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2522

    When ecclesiastical miscreants very clearly say *I* am guilty and *I repent* (and this includes B16 as necessary), then we can consider forgiving them. Until then — call them what they are: whited sepulchres.

  6. Tim says:

    Benedict needs to exercise more pastoral leadership than expressing his thoughts in an papal letter. He needs to speak publicly so that the church can hear his words and not simply read them in print. Speak to your flock Benedict. Don’t send us a memo!

  7. Sam Schmitt says:

    I don’t have all the answers, Todd – just offering a few (overlooked) facts.

  8. Sam Schmitt says:

    Although this is worth looking at: a scrutiny of the sources relied upon by the New York Times for its March 25 story:

    http://tinyurl.com/yd9y4kb

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