Explosive Letters Involve Vatican and Future Pope In Protecting American Priest Charged With Abusing 200 Deaf Children

The Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, with hands together, at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin in 1960. RedTracker| In what will surely add substance to arguments that the Vatican considers itself above the law, occupied with “higher moral principles” and answering to God, not individual nation’s judicial institutions, the New York Times has just published internal correspondence from several American bishops to the future Pope Benedict XVI, warning top Vatican officials that failure to act on the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy could lead to huge problems in the future.

Father Murphy molested as many as 200 deaf boys at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin in 1960.

The documents, obtained from lawyers Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan representing five men who have brought four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, are a treasure trove of letters between American bishops and the Vatican. 

According to the NYT who is reviewing the files under protest from religious officials, there are victims’ affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Father Murphy and minutes of a final meeting on the case at the Vatican.

Most important, internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

Instead of being disciplined, Father Murphy was quietly moved by Archbishop William E. Cousins of Milwaukee to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes, schools and, as one lawsuit charges, a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest.

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. At the same time, the officials’ reluctance to defrock a sex abuser shows that on a doctrinal level, the Vatican has tended to view the matter in terms of sin and repentance more than crime and punishment. via NYT Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest Read on, the article is

This entire story is shocking and we will continue tomorrow.

Read the NYT article. The questions aren’t only about Father Murphy. The Vatican runs its own judicial system even though the clergy interacts with citizens all over the world. The NYT details how few cases of abuse have even been heard in Rome, and how few perpetrators are punished.If we were talking about a third world country in Africa, we would call it a “kangaroo court”.

Every citzen in the world should ask how the Vatican administers its own judicial system that’s “above the law”. Anne