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Catholic Pope Accused of Covering Up International Child Abuse

March 30, 2010

According to a NY Times article, Catholic Pope says that his faith “will give him the courage not to be intimidated by his critics,” which only angers the abuse survivors more.  As news of the international child abuse allegations have grown, the path for failure to take action seems to lead directly back to the Pope’s back door.  He pardoned pedophiles, issued secret investigations in other cases, and may have just plain obstructed justice in others.  While the Catholic Church had routinely avoided criminal charges, I anticipate that the Pope’s covering up past abusers’ records may well land him an obstruction of justice charge.  The Catholic Church seems unprepared to remove their own Pope, but I am not so sure how the Pope can avoid criminal charges in multiple countries for failing to report and sheltering known pedophiles.  Here is a run-down of the latest, a handy little list courtesy of a Yahoo news report:


Wisconsin

• Last week, the New York Times reported that from 1950 to 1974, Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy worked as a counselor at an acclaimed school for deaf children in Wisconsin, where he molested at least 200 young boys. Several bishops alerted the Vatican that Murphy had been accused of molesting children at the school, though his behavior was never brought to the attention of local law enforcement. Instead, Murphy was quietly transferred to another parish, where he worked with children for another 24 years.

• From 1981 to 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope Benedict XVI n 2004, headed the Vatican department responsible for investigating and acting on such allegations, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

• When the Wisconsin bishops finally initiated disciplinary action against Murphy through a secret canonical trial in the mid-’90s, the accused priest penned a letter of protest to Cardinal Ratzinger. Citing his failing health and his earlier repentance for his actions, Murphy pleaded, “I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood. I ask your kind assistance in this matter.”

• Shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger received the letter, the trial was halted by one of his subordinates. Father Murphy died in 1998 as a fully decorated priest.

Germany

• After rumors first surfaced in January, this month a senior Vatican official disclosed that a German priest working in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, which Ratzinger then administered, was accused of molesting boys. (The church hadn’t yet released the priest’s name, but he has since been identified as Peter Hullerman.) Church officials approved a treatment course of therapy for Hullerman in 1980.

• Hullerman was subsequently permitted to resume pastoral duties — a move that Ratzinger approved, even though a junior official in the archdiocese took the substantive blame for putting Hullerman back into parish work — and into the path of more young children.

• Hullerman continued working with boys, and was convicted in 1986 on sexual molestation charges. Even so, he retained his position within the church until earlier this month. A man whose wedding was to be officiated by Hullerman revealed his criminal history to his congregation — and only then was Hullerman suspended from his work as a priest.

• The German wing of the church — which has stated a dedication to investigating all past cases of abuse by Hullerman and others — recently hired an attorney to investigate the ever-growing number of accusations. “The cases are growing every day,” said Thomas Pfister, the attorney appointed by the German church to investigate abuse charges.

Ireland

• The Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse, an investigative body commissioned by the Irish Church, recently ended its nine-year investigation of abuse allegations stretching back 60 years. The commission concluded that church leaders knew sexual abuse to be “endemic” but did little to stop it.

• In a five-volume report, the commission has collected testimony from more than 2,000 witnesses, who detailed that church officials used rape, beatings, and other tactics of humiliation to maintain a “culture of self-serving secrecy.”

• Benedict XVI released a pastoral letter in response to the report, condemning the abuse of children by priests in Ireland as “sinful and criminal.” Catholic leaders read the missive before their congregations throughout the country —  even though a writer for the Irish Times complains that the statement “ignores reality” by trying to deflect blame onto secular culture and moral relativism.

Recently, the Vatican has gone on the attack, accusing the media of an “ignoble attempt” to smear the pope and his church. In an interview today with MSNBC, Father Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown Univeristy’s Woodstock Theological Center, responded: “I’m afraid that in Europe they may be making some of the same mistakes that the American bishops made. It does no good to attack the media. This all sounds like excuses.”

Additionally, more cases of abuse are currently percolating  in other parts of Europe, such as Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

There are plenty of links to other allegations of abuse internationally.  The real question is:  will law enforcement stand up to the Church and enforce criminal sexual penalties against the criminals masquerading as men of God?  That, my Dear Readers, will be the question of the new era in the Catholic Church.

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