The sex abuse scandal has increasingly entangled Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican in allegations of the cover-up of molesting priests. Now, one case has directly implicated the Pope after it was learned that in the 1990s then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger effectively spared an American molesting hundreds of deaf boys. The then Cardinal received letters from Wisconsin priests asking him to move against the Reverend Lawrence Murphy, who worked at the St John’s School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin. He appears to have blocked efforts to defrock Murphy.
The disclosure came as part of litigation against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In 1996 Murphy’s case was forwarded to the the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then Cardinal Ratzinger, who declined to act on the case even after the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, asked him to defrocked the priest.
Notably, the Pope’s right hand man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (now his Vatican’s secretary of state) had ordered a canonical trial but that was stopped by the Pope after Murphy wrote to the Pope asking for mercy. He wrote to the Pope that he was in bad health and “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.” He appears to have gotten the assistance that he sought. He was able to live out his days as a priest.
This is the second major abuse case tied directly to the Pontiff this month, here.