29 Nov 2010

Unholy week of political spin by church hierarchy shielding pope from personal responsibility for failing to protect children

CNN - March 31, 2010

Archbishop: Mistakes made in priest sex abuse case

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- The archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, apologized repeatedly Tuesday night for the way his archdiocese handled an abusive priest and he defended the Vatican which has come under fire for not disciplining or defrocking the man.

"Mistakes were made in the Lawrence Murphy case," said Archbishop Jerome Listecki at the end of a special holy week mass at St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee.

"The mistakes were not made in Rome in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The mistakes were made here, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, by the Church, by civil authorities, by Church officials, and by bishops. And for that, I beg your forgiveness in the name of the Church and in the name of this Archdiocese of Milwaukee."

The now-deceased Murphy is believed to have molested up to 200 boys.

The Vatican says it did not know about the abuse until 20 years after civil authorities investigated and later dropped the case.

However, a recent New York Times story alleged that top Vatican officials, including the future Pope Benedict XVI, failed to act despite warnings from several American bishops.

Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who obtained internal church paperwork, said it "shows a direct line from the victims through the bishops and directly to the man who is now pope."

In his comments Tuesday night, Listecki attempted to shift the blame away from the Pope.

"The Holy Father does not need me to defend him or his decisions," he said. "I believe, and history will confirm, that his actions in responding to this crisis swiftly and decisively and his compassionate response to victims (and) survivors speak for themselves."

Listecki added that measures have now been put in place in his diocese and across the country to protect children from predatory priests.

"Still, we know it is not words, but actions that will demonstrate our resolve," he said. "And, in some ways, regardless of what I say tonight or any other time, our critics will say it is not enough.

"But that cannot and will not prevent me from making every possible effort at moving forward toward healing and resolution with those who have been harmed, and determined to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again."

The apologies are little consolation to many of the victims, three of whom shared their stories on "Larry King Live" Tuesday night.

"These priests have been allowed to abuse children for years. And with the man who is now the pope knowing about what Father Murphy alone was doing, and not doing anything about it? He needs to resign. He has no business being in the position he is in," said Donald Marshall, who said he was abused once during one of Murphy's regular visits to the Lincoln Hills School, a juvenile detention center in Irma in northern Wisconsin.

Most of the alleged abuse took place at the John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis where Murphy began as a teacher in 1950.

He was promoted to run the school in 1963 in spite of the fact that students had warned church officials of molestation, according to documents that CNN has seen.

Gary Smith said his abuse began when he was 12 and continued up until he was 20, about 50 or 60 times.

"He was scared. He didn't know if he should tell anyone," said Gigi Budzinski, who interpreted for Smith during his appearance on King's show.

"He felt like Murphy was so powerful that he couldn't do anything," she said.

Still, Smith and two other classmates eventually reported Murphy to the Milwaukee police.

"They did nothing," said Arthur Budzinski, who said he was abused three times.

Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told of the abuse, but none reported it to criminal or civil authorities, said Anderson, who is representing five men who are suing the archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, however, said that abuse was reported in fall 1973 to Milwaukee police, who turned the report over to St. Francis police, but no charges were filed.

Murphy was removed in May 1974 as director of the St. John's School for the Deaf, but remained as fundraiser and alumni director until summer 1974, when he was removed from any role at the school, according to a chronology posted on the archdiocese Web site.

In August 1974, a series of newspaper articles in the Milwaukee Sentinel reported on Murphy's removal and the allegations, the chronology said.

A district attorney reviewed the allegations against Murphy in fall 1974. A civil lawsuit was filed in 1975 against the archdiocese relating to Murphy, but was resolved the following year, the chronology said.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who would later become pope, "was not informed of the matter until some 20 years later," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

The office is in charge of deciding whether accused priests should be given canonical trials and defrocked.

But as part of his lawsuit, Anderson obtained correspondence from Milwaukee to Ratzinger and other internal church documents.

The documents, dating back to 1974, include letters between bishops and the Vatican, victims' affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Murphy and minutes of a final Vatican meeting on the case.

Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case in 1996 from Milwaukee's then-archbishop, Rembert G. Weakland.

After eight months, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who at the time was second-in-command of the doctrinal office and now is the Vatican's secretary of state, told Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial, the documents show.

By that time, Murphy was in poor health, living in seclusion and had not had any allegations of abuse levied against him for more than 20 years, the Milwaukee archbishop said.

The Congregation suggested that the archbishop restrict Murphy's public ministry and require him to accept full responsibility for his acts.

Murphy died four months later.

"Even though some do not want to hear it or accept it as truth, mistakes were made by law enforcement, medical professionals -- even reporters who helped bring initial stories to light and grappled with how to deal with perpetrators," Listecki said Tuesday night. "We have all learned so much."

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New York Times - March 30, 2010

Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope?

By MAUREEN DOWD | Op-Ed Columnist

It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin.

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday.

This week of special confessions and penance services is unfolding as the pope resists pressure from Catholics around the globe for his own confession and penance about the cascade of child sexual abuse cases that were ignored, even by a German diocese and Vatican office he ran.

If church fund-raising and contributions dry up, Benedict’s P.R. handlers may yet have to stage a photo-op where he steps out of the priest’s side of the confessional and enters the side where the rest of his fallible flock goes.

Or maybe 30-second spots defending the pope with Benedict’s voice intoning at the end: “I am infallible, and I approve this message.”

Canon 1404 states that “The First See is judged by no one.” But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as my dad used to say. Somebody has to tell the First See when it’s blind — and mute — to deaf children in America and Italy.

The Vatican is surprised to find itself in this sort of trouble. Officials there could have easily known what was going on all along; archbishops visiting Rome gossip like a sewing circle. The cynical Vatican just didn’t want to deal with it.

And now the church continues to hide behind its mystique. Putting down the catechism, it picked up the Washington P.R. handbook for political sins.

First: Declare any new revelation old and unimportant.

At Palm Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York bemoaned that the “recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.”

A few priests? At this point, it feels like an international battalion.

A re-run of an old story? So sorry to remind you, Archbishop, that one priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who showed no remorse and suffered no punishment from “Rottweiler” Ratzinger, abused as many as 200 deaf children in Wisconsin.

Archbishop Dolan compared the pope to Jesus, saying he was “now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar,” and “being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.”

Second: Blame somebody else — even if it’s this pope’s popular predecessor, on the fast track to sainthood.

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn defended Pope Benedict this week, saying that then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s attempt in 1995 to investigate the former archbishop of Vienna for allegedly molesting youths in a monastery was barred by advisers close to Pope John Paul II.

Third: Say black is white.

In his blog, Archbishop Dolan blasted church critics while stating: “The Church needs criticism; we want it; we welcome it; we do a good bit of it ourselves,” adding: “We do not expect any special treatment. ...so bring it on.” Right.

Fourth: Demonize gays, as Karl Rove did in 2004.

In an ad in The Times on Tuesday, Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, offered this illumination: “The Times continues to editorialize about the ‘pedophilia crisis,’ when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.”

Donohue is still talking about the problem as an indiscretion rather than a crime. If it mostly involves men and boys, that’s partly because priests for many years had unquestioned access to boys.

Fifth: Blame the victims.

“Fr. Lawrence Murphy apparently began his predatory behavior in Wisconsin in the 1950s,” Donohue protested, “yet the victims’ families never contacted the police until the mid-1970s.”

Sixth: Throw gorilla dust.

Donohue asserts that “the common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious,” to abuse cases “was to access therapy and reinstate the patient.” Really? Where in heaven’s name does that information come from? It’s absurd.

And finally, seventh: Use the Cheney omnipotence defense, most famously employed in the Valerie Plame case. Vice President Cheney claimed that his lofty position meant that the very act of spilling a secret, even with dastardly intent, declassified it.

Vatican lawyers will argue in negligence cases brought by abuse victims that the pope has immunity as a head of state and that bishops who allowed an abuse culture, endlessly recirculating like dirty fountain water, were not Vatican employees.

Maybe they worked for Enron.

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The Raw Story - March 31

Catholic League head: Abuse not pedophilia because boys were ‘post-pubescent’

By Daniel Tencer

The head of the influential Catholic League says that the priest who allegedly sexually abused 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin did not engage in pedophilia because 'the vast majority of the victims [were] post-pubescent."

Bill Donohue made the argument during a raucous debate on Larry King Live Tuesday night, during which he repeatedly pointed the finger to homosexuality -- rather than pedophilia -- as the cause of the church's sex abuse problems.

"You’ve got to get your facts straight," Donohue said, addressing sex abuse victim Thomas Roberts. "I’m sorry. If I’m the only one that’s going to deal with facts tonight then that'll be it. The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That’s not pedophilia, buddy. That’s homosexuality."

A rather surprised panel of commentators -- which included pop icon Sinead O'Connor -- then began to debate at what age, exactly, does sexual attraction to children cease to be pedophilia.

Donohue argued the age at which children become "post-pubescent" is around 12 or 13.

"Post-pubescent means beyond puberty," Donohue said. "In other words you’re an adolescent and that’s what homosexuals do and most of them -- the molesters -- have been homosexuals in the Catholic Church."

"Bill Donohue is so desperate to bash gays and defend the Catholic Church that's he's willing to pretend that people who are attracted to 13 year old boys aren't really child predators," opines Bill Amato at Crooks and Liars.

That theme -- that the problem is homosexuality, not pedophilia -- has become a common talking point for defenders of the Catholic Church in the wake of a series of scandals involving allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests.

As the Joe. My. God. blog noted on Tuesday, the Catholic League took out an ad in the New York Times arguing that the scandal should be seen as a problem of sexual orientation. The ad stated in part:

The Times continues to editorialize about the 'pedophilia crisis,' when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

The ad, signed by Donohue, then goes on to attack the Times for covering the story as an issue of pedophilia, and alleges that "issues like abortion, gay marriage, and women's ordination" are behind media coverage of the sex abuse scandals. View the ad here.

Last week, a victim of Father Lawrence Murphy, who allegedly molested up to 200 boys at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee between the 1950s and 1970s, said the pope knew about the accused serial pedophile priest and should be held accountable for Murphy's actions.

Days later, the pope was accused of approving, in 1980 when he was archbishop of Munich in his native Germany, the transfer from one German parish to another of a priest accused of pedophilia.

And on Tuesday, a lawyer for a man who claims he was molested as a teen by a priest in Miami said the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger "lost the paperwork" when a US bishop began the process of defrocking the abusive priest.

The following video was broadcast on CNN's Larry King Live, Tuesday March 30, 2010, and uploaded to the Web by Crooks and Liars.

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