Newly released records show that the future Pope Benedict and other Vatican leaders failed to defrock a late Wisconsin priest accused of molesting up to 200 deaf boys. The records showed that several US bishops repeatedly warned the Vatican that the church could be embarrassed if it did not punish Father Lawrence Murphy.
The New York Times obtained those records and others as a part of four pending lawsuits against the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese. They come as Benedict faces similar accusations when he served as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer. Murphy allegedly molested the boys at Saint John’s School for the Deaf in Saint Francis.
Earlier reports said the church knew about the allegations since the 1950’s. Then in 1974, former Archbishop William Cousins quietly moved Murphy to the Diocese of Superior, where he taught Sunday school and presided at masses for the deaf for two decades. He died in 1998.
According to the new legal documents, the pope, who was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger back then, failed to respond to letters about Murphy’s case. An assistant later ordered a secret church trial, but it was called off when Murphy told Ratzinger he was in poor health. He repented and the case was beyond the church’s statute-of-limitations.
Meanwhile the members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests are in Rome to campaign on behalf of victims. British press are reporting, this morning, that SNAP’s Milwaukee representative Peter Isley has been detained by police in St. Peter’s Square.