Vatican Defends Its Lack of Action

A few hours after the NY Times broke the front page story about a Milwaukee priest’s abuse of 200 deaf children, Vatican officials angrily denounced the story as an attack on the pope himself. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper stated, “clear and despicable intention” to strike at Benedict “at any cost.” This in spite of the fact that the NY Times was quoting from the church’s own documents when writing the story about Fr. Lawrence Murphy a Wisconsin priest who was allowed to abuse deaf children for 3 decades in spite of the knowledge of 3 Milwaukee archbishops.
The Vatican newspaper declined to make any comment about why the church allowed the abusing priest to continue in ministry in spite of widespread knowledge that he was abusing children. Even a Wisconsin bishop was prevented by the Vatican from proceeding with a canonical trial against Fr. Murphy.
According to the latest in the Wall St. Journal, “Bishop Raphael Fliss, objected, saying in a letter to Cardinal Bertone that “I have come to the conclusion that scandal cannot be sufficiently repaired, nor justice sufficiently restored, without a judicial trial against Fr. Murphy.”
Bishop Fliss and Archbishop Weakland then met with Cardinal Bertone in Rome in May 1988. Archbishop Weakland informed Cardinal Bertone that Mr. Murphy had no sense of remorse and didn’t seem to realize the gravity of what he had done, according to a Vatican summary of the meeting.
But Cardinal Bertone insisted that there weren’t “sufficient elements to institute a canonical process” against Murphy because so much time had already passed, according to the summary. Instead, he said Murphy must be forbidden from celebrating Mass publicly outside his home diocese.
Archbishop Weakland, likening Mr. Murphy to a “difficult” child, then reminded Cardinal Bertone that three psychologists had determined he was a “typical” pedophile, in that he felt himself a victim.
But Cardinal Bertone suggested Murphy take a spiritual retreat to determine if he is truly sorry, or otherwise face possible defrocking.”