The Vatican soundly denied that Pope Benedict XVI knew -- when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany -- about a decision to transfer a pedophile priest in that archdiocese.
In response to a New York Times story published Friday, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “had no knowledge of the decision” to reassign the priest to pastoral duties in a parish.
The Times reported that Ratzinger had received a copy of a memo to inform him that the priest had undergone therapy for pedophilia and would return to pastoral duties. The priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, was convicted later of molesting boys in another diocese.
The New York Times story, which added to a flurry of reports in recent weeks of abuse in Ireland, Germany, Italy and the United States, prompted a heated condemnation from Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Donohue, who tells Newsmax that the international press is trying to discredit the church, argues that the story contained no new information, and accused the Times of printing it “to keep the flame alive” of bias against the Catholic Church and the Pope.
“Let's say Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pope, did in fact learn of the transfer,” Donohue says in a statement on his organization’s Web site
. “So what? Wasn't that what he expected to happen?
“A more hard-line approach, obviously, makes more sense, but the therapeutic industry is very powerful,” Donohue says. “In other words, there is no real news in today's news story. So why print it? To keep the flame alive.
“Look for the Times to run another story saying they have proof Ratzinger knew of the transfer,” Donohue says. “Did they think that after he approved the therapy that Hullermann would be sent to the gulag?”
Chastising the Times for its coverage, Donohue writes, “The Pope is a great man, and the Catholic League is proud to stand by him.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican, which has attributed the Hullermann decision to one of then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputies, echoed Donohue’s point that the Times’ story had no new information.
Church spokesman Lombardi said the Vatican “rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.”
Media reports also put the Pope on the firing line this week for his failure to defrock the Rev. Lawrence Murphy, a priest who molested about 200 deaf boys at St. John’s School for the Deaf outside of Milwaukee from the 1950s until 1974.
In the mid-1990s, Murphy’s case came before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which then-Cardinal Ratzinger headed at the time.
An alleged cover-up followed, although Ratzinger’s deputy at the time decided the molestations took place too long ago and Murphy, then ailing and elderly, should repent and be restricted from celebrating Mass outside his diocese, according to church documents.
Murphy died four months after Ratzinger’s Vatican office reviewed the case.
Ratzinger’s office handled the case in accordance with canon law, which does not impose automatic penalties for sexual abuse cases, the Vatican’s Lombardi said.
French bishops recently wrote to the Pope saying they “all feel shame and regret when faced with the abominable acts carried out by certain priests.”
Since becoming Pope, Benedict has taken a hard line on child sexual abuse by speaking out against it and meeting with numerous victims to confront the issue.
The Catholic League’s Donohue says the international media are interested in the scandal only because it gives them an opportunity to discredit the Catholic Church because of its stands on abortion, sexuality. and the family.
“They really don’t care about sexual abuse,” Donohue tells Newsmax. “You have the rubber rooms in New York City, which is the name they devised for the no end of public school teachers and administrators, and staffer members who were given a desk job pushing papers doing administrative work while they investigate further what to do about them.
“You can’t do anything about it because of the teachers’ unions or state laws that protect them.”
Clergy sexual abuse has not been limited to the Catholic Church, Donohue says. For example, Virtue Online, a conservative Anglican blog, reports that dozens of cases of clergy sexual abuse have been reported in the Anglican Communion in recent decades, but Donohue says they have received far less attention in the press.
“If child sexual abuse were really the problem here, then the identity wouldn’t matter, but if in fact the goal is to discredit the Catholic Church by not showing, ‘Look they have problems too,’ and to discredit them from speaking out on all matters sexual then it all adds up,” Donohue says.
The left-wing cultural elites view the Catholic Church as their chief obstacle because it makes sexual restraint a virtue, which obstructs their goal of “genital liberation” and being able to engage in indiscriminate sexual activity, Donohue adds.
“So therefore the more you can discredit the church, particularly dealing with matters of sexuality, the easier it becomes then for these libertines to get their way,” he says. “They have an ideological investment in discrediting the Catholic Church.”
Coverage of the sex abuse scandals often judges the Catholic Church’s past actions in the light of present standards rather than in the mirror of the now discredited standards that existed in the 1970s, 1980s, and earlier, he says.
“There has never been a law up until recently, and only in a few places, that ever required anybody — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, atheist, corporate world — to report an instance of suspected sexual abuse,” Donohue says. “What was done, and was done this way for decades, is to have it dealt with internally.
“Now maybe it shouldn’t have been, but the idea that the Catholics were the only ones who didn’t reach for 911 to call for the cops is absolutely, positively bizarre.”
Donohue points the finger for how the abuse scandals were initially handled at the psychological establishment, which told everyone in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s ̶ the time when most of the abuse cases happened ̶ that even the sickest individual could be rehabilitated through therapy.
“The fact is everybody listened to them,” Donohue says. “Psychiatrists and psychologists oversold themselves."
As a result, the Catholic Church followed the norms that were in place at the time when most of the cases happened, Donohue says.
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