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.
The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.
In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal. But Cardinal Bertone halted the process after Father Murphy personally wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger protesting that he should not be put on trial because he had already repented... “I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to Cardinal Ratzinger. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.”
The pope, ladies and gentleman, the accomplice to mass child rape who thinks he should be in charge of your sex life, your reproductive choices, and whether or not you get to marry the person you love.