Future Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, ignored requests to investigate an American Priest who authorities believe molested as many as 200 deaf boys, the New York Times is reporting today. Rough month to be a Catholic.
I spend a lot of time on this blog really harshin’ on the New York Times, but to give credit where credit is due, Laurie Goodstein’s story today is absolutely top-notch. She doesn’t shy away from making evidenced-based accusations, claiming, “church officials [one of whom was Ratzinger — ed.] … highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.” Absolutely. Reporters can and should make such definitive claims when they can. One of greatest failures of Bush-era reporting — that continues to this day — was the reluctance on the part of virtually all major media outlets to call torture “torture.” Goldstein doesn’t fall prey to that pitfall in her story, calling a spade a spade when necessary.
Here’s another example of her clarity:
Even as the pope himself in a recent letter to Irish Catholics has emphasized the need to cooperate with civil justice in abuse cases, the correspondence seems to indicate that the Vatican’s insistence on secrecy has often impeded such cooperation.
Slam! Now that’s how you connect the goddamn dots. Needless to say, I recommend reading the whole article. It describes in detail how Father Murphy — a priest who was known to have molested deaf boys was moved to a different parish, was not defrocked, and never faced criminal charges — was able to continue to work with children until his death. Asking for leniency from the future Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger at the time, Murphy wrote:
“I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood.”
I’m sure he did. It seems unlikely that he would prefer to be defrocked and thrown in jail, where, I’ve heard, pedophiles aren’t looked upon highly. The files Goodstein references contain no response from Future Pope.
Today’s report comes on the heels of allegations of massive levels of priestly abuse in Ireland, as well as reports that Germans are becoming increasingly unhappy with the Church. That said, as awful as traditional Christian institutions can be, they never terrify me quite as much as modern evangelical cults do.