NYT: Pope Spared American Priest Who Molested Hundreds of Deaf Boys

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.

UPDATE: The Vatican has issued a statement denying the allegations vis-a-vis Murphy, here.
For the full story, click here.

213 thoughts on “NYT: Pope Spared American Priest Who Molested Hundreds of Deaf Boys”


  2. I am not sure why, but I have a belief I’ll leave this here:


    “Magnets Can Manipulate Morality
    Magnetic fields targeting the moral center of the brain could scramble our sense of right and wrong.”

    Hundreds of thousands of tin foil hats can’t be wrong.

    It is nice to know that some criminal behavior can be eliminated with a plate installed in the head. Would a brain operate properly in a Faraday cage? Inquiring minds want to know. You may not be intrinsically evil, just magnetically challenged. CAVEAT: You’re plain old evil if you’re a pedophile and you don’t simply kill yourself. This is a no flex rule. No plate or foil justifies some actions.

    While you’re at it, I’m yelling “PATENT!” first: libido enhancement via any and all engineered forms of magnetic field induction exploiting any known (and unknown) laws of physics.

  3. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpuYoK6wv_Y&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

  4. See this recent cartoon that just popped up on http://www.deafcartoon.com. “Pope Benedict, you molested Christ.” What do you think – is it right that whoever abused the deaf boys also abused Christ? How can Pope Benedict face this shame and continue to sit on the throne? It would be best for the Catholic world if he would humble himself, apologize to Christ and the schools, and resign immediately. This way peace and healing would ensue.

  5. GENEVA (Reuters) – Swiss President Doris Leuthard called on Sunday for a central register of paedophile priests, to prevent them from having further contact with children.

    Her statement to Swiss media came as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Catholic Church worldwide, with Swiss police too investigating allegations that children were harmed by priests.

    “Whether perpetrators come from the civil or clerical world makes no difference. Both are subject to Swiss criminal law, with no ifs or buts,” Leuthard said.

    Leuthard said it was important to ensure that paedophiles had no further contact with children and the possibility of a register for paedophile priests should be considered, on the lines of one for teachers.

    The Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung reported that the Swiss bishops’ conference was considering holding an emergency meeting, where the question of a register could be discussed, ahead of its regular annual meeting from May 31 to June 2.

    The Swiss church plans to counter the negative publicity from the sex abuse scandal with an advertising campaign in which posters saying “More Good News” would be displayed in churches in each of Switzerland’s 2,000 parishes, another weekly, Sonntag, reported.

  6. Jake–

    There’s a big difference between scientists and many fundamentalist religious believers. (I don’t think all people of faith are close-minded–just some.) Scientists search for the truth. Close-minded religious believers “believe” they KNOW the truth. Their faith precludes them from searching for certain truths because they believe they already KNOW what those truths are.

    You said: “Scientists are generally more open to validating their experiences. This does not imply scientists do not require faith in their methods, though.”

    When you used the word “faith” in your comment that I quoted above–did you mean “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence?” (That’s a definition I took from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.”) If so, I disagree with you. Scientists employ methods that have been proven to work in the past. They also adopt/develop new techniques for experimentation and study–techniques developed via logic and knowledge…not blind faith. They’ll try out new methods. Science isn’t static. Science isn’t about having blind faith in something that isn’t provable. It’s about trial and error and trying to learn new things and make discoveries.

  7. As my critics like to say, I was running with the Devil. Actually, I have dedicated myself to yard work this weekend which is, of course, the functional equivalent of the Devil.

  8. Mespo that must have been some steak. Haven’t seen you since Friday night 🙂

  9. “I think you missed the point: Science requires faith. Because science requires faith, even a speck of it, science is incapable of refuting religion.”


    Though I dispute the major premise of your categorical syllogism, I can now see the point and the sterling quality of your logic. Here let me apply it in a slightly different context, to wit:

    Making an illegal U-turn requires unlawful conduct;

    Serial murderers also engage in unlawful conduct;

    Making a U-turn and serial murder are thus functional equivalents;

    Because I am guilty of some degree of unlawful conduct, I may not mock, criticize, or express displeasure at a functional equivalent.

    Eureka! Makes sense to me.

  10. Jake,

    Do not falsely assume that I am addressing your illogics for your sole benefit and my entertainment alone.

    Concision does not equate to politeness.

    I thought I made it clear your approval of my speech was not required so it would follow logically your approbation is not a primary concern.

    You want to talk assumptions? You assume that a belief is a better assumption than a rational process that results in consistent and therefore predictable results. That’s the exact kind of assumptions the old trope about assumptions was created for, Jake.

    Like the assumption that any of your wishful and magical thinking, which is what it is as it is not only not rooted in empirical fact but in unprovable assertions nested in spooky language that has no beneficial application in the lives of modern humans, is a good position vis a vis personal or societal survival.

    Be sure to let us know how that flying experiment works out for you.

    None of this changes or distracts from the fact that the Pope is personally involved with the protection of pedophiles. A felonious act in and of itself under the laws of many countries including the United States.

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