Pope Implicated in Past Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse Case
New documents reveal Pope and other church officials failed to punish Wisconsin priest who molested about 200 boys.
The New York Times has obtained revealing lawsuit documents that suggest Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up and dismissing an important sexual abuse case in Wisconsin around 1996.
At the time, the Pope was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Bishops in Wisconsin had written to him to alert him of a serious situation – Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who was working at St. John’s School for the Deaf, had been sexually abusing numerous boys. He would “pull down their pants and touch them in his office, his car, his mother’s country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips and in their dormitory beds at night.”
Over the course of his career as a priest, Father Murphy molested an estimated 200 boys. In the lawsuit documents are accounts from many of his victims, which all give similar stories. However, the letters of warning sent to Cardinal Ratzinger were not given a response. The Wisconsin bishops were torn on what to do without any guidance, and they didn’t want the situation to erupt into a huge scandal for the church.
After deciding on a secret cononical trial to dismiss Father Murphy, proceedings were halted when Murphy personally wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger, explaining that he was about to die and wanted to live out his time “in the dignity of the priesthood.” There is no record of a response from Cardinal Ratzinger, but Father Murphy was never tried, never punished, and died in 1998 still a priest. (The New York Times)