1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

The Pope and Fr. Murphy: Fact, Fiction, and Anti-Catholic Bias

By March 29, 2010

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"Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys" read the headline on the front page of the New York Times on March 25, 2010—the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The text of the story was no less alarming, seeming to implicate "Top Vatican officials—including the future Pope Benedict XVI" in a decades-long cover-up of one of the most heinous cases of clerical sexual abuse revealed in the United States.

Fr. Lawrence C. Murphy, who died in 1998, is alleged to have "molested as many as 200 deaf boys," according to the article by Laurie Goodstein. The abuse, which no one denies, took place at St. John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin, where Father Murphy was stationed between 1950 and 1974.

Beyond those details, however, the Father Murphy case—and especially Laurie Goodstein's New York Times article—is a classic example of the conflation of fact, fiction, and anti-Catholic bias. Let's examine each.

The Facts

There have been a number of good articles examining Laurie Goodstein's reporting; for this post, I am especially indebted to three: "A Response to the New York Times" by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza; "The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you" by Phil Lawler; and "Shame on the NYTimes" by Michael Sean Winters. The first appeared in on a political website (National Review Online); the second, on a generally conservative Catholic website (CatholicCulture.org); the third, on a left-wing Catholic website (AmericaMagazine.org).

As Lawler notes, "The allegations of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy began in 1955 and continued in 1974." Unfortunately, the allegations were not taken seriously by officials at the school or in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, to which Father Murphy belonged, until 1974. They were never, as Laurie Goodstein admits in her article (more on that in the "Anti-Catholic Bias" section, below), taken seriously by civil authorities.

In 1974, Milwaukee Archbishop William Cousins, Fr. de Souza reports, granted Father Murphy "an official 'temporary sick leave' from St. John’s School for the Deaf," but he did not pursue canonical penalties against the priest. Father Murphy moved to the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, and lived with his mother. "He has no official assignment from this point until his death in 1998," nor have any allegations of abuse in those last 24 years of his life emerged.

So where does Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, come in? In 1996, years after both the civil and canonical statutes of limitations on sexual abuse had run out, Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland (one of Laurie Goodstein's two sources for her article) "writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, claiming that he has only just discovered that Father Murphy’s sexual abuse involved the sacrament of confession" (in Father de Souza's words). Father Murphy was alleged to have granted some of his victims absolution for sexual sins in which he had taken part—such a serious violation of the sacrament and of the duties of the priesthood that there is no statute of limitations on the offense.

Archbishop Weakland, who had known about the Father Murphy case for over 20 years, had authority over it from 1977 on, and declined to do anything about it until 1996, began a canonical trial against Father Murphy that fall. On March 24, 1997, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Ratzinger's right-hand man at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to Archbishop Weakland, agreeing with the need for a canonical trial.

The trial continued for over a year and a half, even though, in May 1998, Archbishop Bertone, in a meeting with Archbishop Weakland in Rome, discussed other options "that would more quickly remove Father Murphy from ministry," since Father Murphy was close to death. Archbishop Weakland declined to pursue such options until August 19, 1998, two days before Father Murphy died—at which point it was too late.

Because Father Murphy had not been defrocked, his family had him buried in his priestly vestments in a public funeral (despite Archbishop Weakland's request that the funeral be private).

The Fiction

By now, it should be clear that the headline and lead paragraph of Goodstein's article severely distorts the reality of what happened. While Archbishop Weakland wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger in 1996, there is no indication that the future pope read the correspondence or directed his assistant's response to it. Even if he had, the response was the appropriate one—Archbishop Bertone recommended proceeding with a canonical trial to attempt to defrock Father Murphy.

In other words, Cardinal Ratzinger did not "decline to defrock" Father Murphy. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Cardinal Ratzinger was the head, supported the attempt to defrock Father Murphy and even, as Father Murphy approached death, suggested that the trial be suspended and other measures taken to ensure that he be defrocked before he died.

Moreover, Goodstein's article gives the impression that the events of 1996-98 were simply a continuation of the allegations and actions of 1974. That's not true. While the events of 1996 involved some of the same incidents, the crime in question was a different one: the pardoning of sins in which Father Murphy himself had taken place. Unlike sexual abuse, which has a statute of limitations in both civil and canonical law (indeed, the statute of limitations on sexual abuse in civil law is almost universally shorter than the statute of limitations in canonical law), there is no statute of limitations on the grave corruption of the priesthood and Sacrament of Confession. That's why a trial could begin in 1996, and why the CDF supported the trial.

Finally, Goodstein suggests that the Church failed in 1996 to report Father Murphy's actions to the civil authorities. But again, in 1996, there was nothing to report. The civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse had long ago expired; the crime under consideration at that time—abuse of the Sacrament of Confession—is only a canonical crime, not a civil one.

The Anti-Catholic Bias

And that is where the anti-Catholic bias of the article becomes evident. Goodstein has been writing about matters Catholic for some time now; indeed, as Father de Souza points out, she

has a recent history with Archbishop Weakland. Last year, upon the release of the disgraced archbishop’s autobiography, she wrote an unusually sympathetic story that buried all the most serious allegations against him (New York Times, May 14, 2009)

Yet Goodstein relied on Archbishop Weakland's self-serving account of the Father Murphy case to try to build a nonexistent case against Pope Benedict XVI. In the process, she deliberately conflates the allegations of 1974 with those of 1996, though any competent reporter covering the Catholic Church would understand the difference between the civil and canonical crimes of sexual abuse and the canonical crime of absolving a partner in sin.

Goodstein goes out of her way to bury the fact that the civil authorities declined to do anything in 1974, writing a convoluted paragraph that gives the mistaken impression that they were acting at the behest of the Church:

Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.

Burying the role that the civil authorities played in the middle of the ninth paragraph of the story, sandwiched in between two sentences about Church officials' failure to act, cannot be chalked up to bad reporting. It is, as any good writer or editor would know, a deliberate act.

Another indication of Goodstein's bias can be seen in her reporting on the history of canonical actions against priests. Goodstein writes:

The Vatican’s inaction is not unusual. Only 20 percent of the 3,000 accused priests whose cases went to the church’s doctrinal office between 2001 and 2010 were given full church trials, and only some of those were defrocked, according to a recent interview in an Italian newspaper with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the chief internal prosecutor at that office. An additional 10 percent were defrocked immediately. Ten percent left voluntarily. But a majority—60 percent—faced other “administrative and disciplinary provisions,” Monsignor Scicluna said, like being prohibited from celebrating Mass.

What Goodstein leaves out is that Msgr. Scicluna explained (as the English Catholic Herald reported) that "Most cases of priestly sex abuse against minors have been handled without a Church trial because of the advanced age of the accused." Moreover, while "only some of those" (Goodstein's words) given full canonical trials were defrocked, "the conviction rate is about 85 per cent overall" (according to the Catholic Herald).

One final indication of Goodstein's bias: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not have jurisdiction over sexual-abuse cases until 2001, six years after the canonical trial of Father Murphy began. Revealing that fact destroys the tidy narrative Goodstein has built up, because it makes it clear to even the cursory reader that the Father Murphy case, in 1996, could not have been the same as the Father Murphy case in 1974.

Goodstein's decision to leave that fact out cannot be attributed to ignorance: It was discussed in the interview with Msgr. Scicluna that she cites. That is why the 3,000 cases that she mentions have all been referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2001—it was only then that the CDF received jurisdiction.

Comments
March 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm
(1) Tom Piatak says:

An outstanding overview.

March 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm
(2) Father Daniel says:

As Father Murphy’s ordinary, Archbishop Weakland had the authority to strip Murphy of all priestly functions and even to send him to a monastery or convent for penance.

There are several steps, short of laitization, that gets a priest out of public ministry, and most are within the power of the local bishop.

March 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm
(3) ytb says:

Living in the archdiocese of Milwaukee, I’ve seen a lot of coverage of this case. Any trying to tie this to the current pope is just wrong. Archbishop Cousins, Archbishop Weakland, or local prosecutors all had the opportunity to deal with this for 22 yrs and didn’t. Any culpability lies with these people. Fr. Murphy’s actions are about as bad as any I’ve ever seen and it’s hard to believe the reaction of those who could’ve done something long ago.

March 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm
(4) Roger Smith says:

whatever. The Catholic Church dictates harsh sexual restraint to others (including forbidding use of contraceptives in family planning by married couples) and yet its priests are free to molest children? Give me a break. This is the beginning of the end for this tyrannical medieval institution that has done more harm than good in history. Shouting “anti-catholicism” will not cover up the documented crimes against children that have occured around the world.

March 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm
(5) roger smith says:

Crimes against children by catholic priests have been documented around the world. How is it that the Catholic church can dictate harsh sexual codes
(including forbidding use of contraceptives by married couples) to others but can’t control sexual perversity in the priesthood? This isn’t anti-Catholic bias, this is the cold hard truth. This is the beginning of the end for a religious institution that has done far more harm than good.

March 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm
(6) ytb says:

It’s sad that some think that the actions of some in an institution somehow means the institution itself isn’t credible. I’ve recently seen plenty of corruption from individuals in teaching, police and fire professions. I don’t think this speaks to the rest of those in their respective fields who do great good in society. If a teacher molests does that mean if any teacher speaks on the wrongness of rape that it isn’t somehow credible? Funny thing about this particular case is the vicar who was vigoruosly prosecuting Fr. Murphy AT the time of his death was never contacted by any media source about it and finally felt compelled to write an article to bring the facts to light.The article can be seen here for those interested in truth and not rhetoric. http://catholicanchor.org/wordpress/?p=601
These cases from the past are disturbing and horrific and the least we can is be fair and honest in assessing who’s at fault.

March 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(7) harry colin says:

Thank you Scott for this wonderful piece! In a world filled with anti-Catholic bigotry the performance of the major media recently has sunk to new lows.

Obviously, these poorly disguised hit pieces are designed to weaken the Church’s voice when it speaks against rampant secularism, aggressive militarism and the other awful onslaughts against Christendom.

It’s always amusing to see bigots professing the coming end of the Church; this wishful thinking of theirs will crumble into despair yet again. The Church will be there when the NY Times, Newsweek and the like are ashes on the dust heap of history.

March 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm
(8) Tom Qualey says:

Excellent job, Scott.

The writer with the fixation on ‘harsh sexual restraint’ (code for rejecting the Chruch’s stand on no artificial contraception?) certainly had to work hard to developed this missed point. There have been several recent documents (by non-Catholics) who have identified that the sexual abuse of children has been done by Protestants and Jews, married and un-married, male and female ministers. So, unmarried priests are not at a higher risk for pedophilia then married Protestant clergy.

Keep up the good work Scott.

March 31, 2010 at 10:41 am
(9) Jens24 says:

“Father Murphy was transferred to the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, and lived with his mother.” under your Facts area. This is NOT true! “Transferred” is a church legal term for sending and accepting clergy. This was not the case. He just moved to his mother’s house that happened to be in a different diocese!

March 31, 2010 at 10:50 am
(10) Scott P. Richert says:

Jens24, thanks for the catch. As is clear from the rest of my post, Father Murphy was not transferred to another diocese but remained a priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which is why Archbishop Weakland had authority over him.

I’ve corrected the error in the text of the post.

March 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm
(11) John Marino says:

Scott: I grew up next door to St John’ s School for the Deaf and often played with the deaf students. I saw Murphy walking around the place a lot. It’s too bad what happened but we had bad archbishops with Weakland and Cousins who didn’t do their jobs well. Weakland always hated the Pope. He is a new age homosexual who almost destroyed this Archdiocese. He is the one who should have been defrocked. I think he is back to undermining the Church again. He can’t stand that the Pope has been effective and the Archbishop who followed him straightened out a lot of the mess he left.

The presiding judge in this case Father Thomas Brundage JCL has given a full explanation of this case to the Catholic Anchor in Anchorage Alaska. It is quite revealing in that he is quoted often in documents by the AP and New York Times. None of them ever tried to interview him. He completly defends the Pope. Fr. Brundage can be contacted by e-mail at@ achmil.org or by phone at 907 745-3229 x11.
The name of the publication is Catholic Anchor.org.

March 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm
(12) Truth will Set You Free says:

What a crock! According to the Bishops’ Study by the John Jay Institute of Law 5% of the Priests in the US are pedophiles! That is 1-in-20! You will not find that rate of sicko child rapists anywhere else not even in prison! Go ahead and cry “anti-Catholic bias”! The Catholic Church aided and abetted criminal activity by transferring child rapists to unsuspecting parishes where they committed their crimes again and again. By any definition that makes the Catholic Church a criminal organization! Do you know that the Catholic Bishop in Nova Scotia was arrested for possession of 9000 child pornography pictures last year? That the Archbishop of Argentina was sentenced to prison for sex crimes? Does my being outraged by this make me anti-Catholic? Get a grip you people!

March 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm
(13) trotty says:

Can’t we somehow learn from the mistakes that were made in NOT addressing cases of molestation. I agree that in this case, it was the local administration (Bishop) that should have swiftly removed the offending priest.

It’s happened so many times. What’s being done to identify problem clergy to PREVENT future scandal???

March 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(14) John Marino says:

The church has completly changesd how this matter is handled. Candidates for the prieshood are examined for any tendencies in this direction. There is now full disclosure, when an incident is alleged. It is much easier and quicker to defrock priests now than it used to be. However there have been a lot of innocent or minor offenders who have been pilloried beyond reason. The Catholic church is the only one that the statutes of limitiation doesn’t apply to any more. This Pope has adressed this issue in positive way. He has changed cannon law and pushed for removal of those bishops who have not done their job. There is a massive pediophile sandal going on in the Orthodox Jewish community right now, both in Brooklyn and in Israel. Everyday some case of child abuse in the public schools seems to be exposed. Most of these cases involving the church are from decades ago and the people being accused are dead. That is the case in with Fr. Murphy. This old case is being dug up to embarass the Pope. If you read the true facts of the case you will see he had nothing to do with it’s ajudication. For a society that thinks nothing of homosexual adoption it is ridicoulous to keep pushing decades old cases that have been resolved long ago. I followed this Murphy case since the 70′s. The fault if any goes to the courts who used to let homosexual pediophiles off with a slap on the wrist. The fault also includes psychiatrists who told people these men were capable of resuming normal lives.

I know of 4 cases from about 40 to 50 years ago, none priests. All the offenders got off with counciling and probation. It was the hidden crime and courts put these people out on the street. About the only instituion adressing this problem is the church. The push to make homosexuality normal and all this pornography is driving the incest, pedophilia, and pedastry statistics through the roof. I am glad there is tougher enforcement but it still is bad.

March 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm
(15) Yossarian says:

John Marino says: ” The push to make homosexuality normal and all this pornography is driving the incest, pedophilia, and pedastry statistics through the roof.” Wow…do you have any proof to back that statement up? I think I detect some anti-homosexual bias here. Maybe …just maybe the “statistics” are thru the roof ,because more people are not afraid to speak out now. 40 to 50 years ago the priest held more power over the sheep. Nobody would dare speak out against Father Diddles, for fear of being excommunicated. Speaking of which now that I’m an atheist, how can I go about getting excommunicated? Do I have to write to Ratzinger personally, or do I contact the church I was baptized at? Do they give you a neat certificate you can hang on the wall? I think that would be the bees knees.

April 1, 2010 at 8:28 am
(16) Mr. Clement U. Chukwudifu says:

It is a pity that some individuals in the Church and other institutions have abused children. These are individuals in the society where there are criminals and other forms of deviant persons. People have been deviants not because they are Catholics or Jews or priests. The simple thing is that these offending persons are human and they have displayed some human weaknesses. Some people might want to shut down the Catholic Church for the sin of a few. This is sheer category mistake because they are not able to isolate the individual from the class or group. No doubt, what has happened is condemnable but the Church will definitely grow with the revelations.

April 1, 2010 at 9:20 am
(17) Catholic Avenger says:

Yossarian, I think you did a fine job of excommunicating yourself to bother anyone else about it.

April 1, 2010 at 9:58 am
(18) Truth shall set you free says:

According to the John Jay report between 1950 and 2002 6700 accusations of child sex abuse by 4,392 priests in the US were substantiated by the Catholic
Church. The Fern report and the Murphy report in Ireland show higher abuse rates there. Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Australia and other countries also report large numbers of abuse.
Do we need further proof that the Catholic Church is an international pedophile ring? Not hardly.

April 2, 2010 at 3:01 am
(19) LAURA ANYOLA TUFON says:

According to the facts mentioned above especially as to what is said of (Fr de Souza’s words), what becomes of the confessional seal?

April 2, 2010 at 6:22 am
(20) Numeaning says:

ABORTION AND CHILD PREDATORS?

THERE’S NO SCANDAL IN THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY?

April 3, 2010 at 12:53 am
(21) Stephen T Conklin says:

Accountability has long been over due in the Catholic Church, especially in the ordained leadership. We need to learn to live our faith with truth and not coverups. During the trial of Jesus, “Pilate said to him, “What is the Truth?”" Jh 18:40 That is the question that should be asked, and the Church Leadership should tell the truth, and not cover up the Church. We are all accountable to live with the truth, and it is time for the Ordained leadership to follow suit. You do the crime, you do the time, and no one should be held above reproach.

April 3, 2010 at 4:03 am
(22) truth shall set you free says:

Accountablity? There is no accountability. It was outside forces that brought this matter to light and that forced the church to drop its denial.

The Catholic church has ZERO credibility. It should be prosecuted for what the facts show it to be: an international pedophile ring that has harmed tens of thousands of children around the world.

April 3, 2010 at 8:35 am
(23) Michael Ezzo says:

The message of Fatima tells that if Our Lady’s requests for the Consecration of Russia are not obeyed, the Holy Father will have much to suffer. Could this current case be part of that suffering? I believe it very well could be, and will continue to encourage petitioning the pope for the Consecration. Not a single man could possibly be harmed in any way by such a simple act. Thus, opposition to it is difficult to justify. God help us all.

April 11, 2010 at 12:24 am
(24) Mikael says:

Just read and make up your own mind. The church guilt is indisputable. How you choose to face it us up to you!

http://documents.nytimes.com/reverend-lawrence-c-murphy-abuse-case#document/p1

April 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm
(25) Scott P. Richert says:

Mikael, the question isn’t the guilt of some in the Church (including two successive archbishops of Milwaukee), but of the supposed guilt of the Holy Father. The documents offer no evidence that he was at all engaged in any kind of cover-up or improper activity, as Laurie Goodstein claims.

April 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm
(26) Evelyn Roberts says:

This makes me sick and there is no reason whatsoever that these abuses are allowed to go unpunished. I have been Catholic my whole life, but as an adult parent I would worry about my young male sons.

September 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(27) Jade says:

I am sorry for the Good decent Catholics who are slowly awakening to the fact the church has become infilitrated by pedophile priests,who thought they could “hide”in it.
Far from being a rare event, let’s talk about the widespread sexual and physical abuse(they often go together)at orphanges and residential schools in the United States and Canada.See http://www.hiddenfromhistory,the untold story of Candadian genocide in which perverted priests played a major role right up until modern times! The Church floated bad boys in and out of Canada, foisting off bad priests on little Native kids in out of the way places, far from accountablility.
No one ever talks about this, and it happens in America as well.What you will learn is well documented and the reason Canada apologized to the Native People recently.
Beatings, starvings and molestation ruled the residential system, producing dysfunction and horrific memories in the survivors,and piles of bodies. Over 50% of the children died in these school, (death camps)and guesse who was running them?

December 26, 2010 at 6:00 am
(28) SARA says:

HOW MY CHRISTIAN HEART WEEPS FOR THESE POOR SOULS , MY BIBILE SAYS SHALL NOT THE RIGHTIOUS JUDGE TO THAT WICH IS RITCHIOUS THESE PRECIOUS SOULS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BYE NEROS ROMINISIM IT NEVER WAS CHIRISTAN NEVER WILL BE SHES DRUBK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE MARTERS HISTORY PROVES THATS HER THE CITY ON 7 HILLS . GODS HOLY WORD SAYS DOUBLE UNTO HER DOUBLE ROME HAS GOT IT COMMING , READ THE BIBLE GOD GAVE HER SPACE TO REPEND AND THEY WOULDENT AND CHRIST PUT THAT FILTHY ROTTON MAD FORNICATING BOTH PHYISICAS AND WORST OF ALL SPIRITUAL WITH SATAN , JUST WATS IT WILL BRING FORTH THE ANTICHRIST THE BIBLE SAYS SO . GOODNESS ME SIR I BEG OF YOU ASK YOUR SLEF WHAT WOULD CHRIST DO ? . YOU ARE ALOWED TO LIE TO PROTECT THE ROMQN CARHOLIC CHURCH THEY DONT REGARD IT AS A SIN . THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO THE HOLY FATHER GOD AND THATS THROUGH HIS SON , TO BE WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF OUR PRECIOUS LORD JESUS CHRIST , AND NO OTHER WAY , NO DEAD IDALS , NO POEPE , NO PRIEST , OH LORD THEY WILL HAVE TO ANSWER FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR ALL THE SOULS THEY HAVE SENT TO HELL THROUGH THEIR SUPERSTITIONS AND WITHCHCRAFT .I DONT PRAY FOR THE WHORE OF BABYLON GOD GAVE HER SPACE TO REPENT THROUGH THE CHURCHE AGES AND SHE WOULD NOT . THAT MAN MADE MONEY MAKEING SOUL DESTROYING EVIL SPIRITUAL HARLOT WILL BE THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE , THE FALSE PROPHET THATS THE POPES , CLAIM TO SPEAK IN PLACE OF GOD CALL HIM HOLY FATHER , WHAT BLASPHOMY TO GIVE A PAGAN PRIEST SUCH A TITAL . OH THOSE POOR NUNS , THOSE POOR NUNS GOD WILL GIVE THEM A CHANCE AT MERCY IN THE SECOND RESIRECTION THEY NEVER HAD A CHANCE , SEE HE IS A JUST GOD . BUT THOSE EVIL WICKED DEMON POSSESED WITHCH DOCTOERS YOU CALL PRIESTS THAT HAVE DESTROYED THESE PRECIOUS INNOCENT SOULS THEY WILL BURN IN THE DEEPEST DARKEST BEYOND ANYTHING THEY COULD EVER IMAGINE HELL THEIR DEPRAVED NERO MINDS WOULDENT EVEN THIINK OF IT . GOD SAID IN REVELATION DOUBLE UNTO HER DOUBLE FOR WHAT SHE HAS DONE , YOU SEE THOSE WITHCH DOCTORS SATANS ANGELS OF FALSE LIGHT , THEY WILL GET EVREYTHING THATS COMMING . IF YOU HELP THEM IN ANYWAY BY DEFENDING THEM BYE LYING YOU BREAK GODS WORD , THOU SHALT NOT BARE FALSE WITNESS .SO HOW FIT WITH THINKING ITS FINE TO LIE FOR THESE WICKED CORUPT EVIL PEOPLE . AND THE POOR , POOR SOULS I KNOW BECOUSE I WAS ONE OF , I GOT BAPTISED NOT IN THE NAME OF THEIR IDALS BUT IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST LIKE IN THE BIBLE GLORY , NOT IN THAT BAPTISISM WITCH IS HEATHEN THREE GODS . THE BIBLE SAYS THEIR IS ONE GOD AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN THE MAN CHRIST JESUS , THEY DONT REALISE THE ORIGIONAL FATH AND DOCTRINE OF CHRIST AND THE DECIPLES AND THE APOSTLE PAUL HAS BENN PLANTED AND IS SPRUNG UP , THIS TIME BABYLON W3ONT TOUCH THEM GOD WILL CHANGE THEIR BODYS AND TAKE THEM OFF THE EARTH. WHAT A PROMICE LIKE ABRAHAM AND ENOCH WHAT A MIGHTY GOD I SERVE , THE AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GRACE , GRACE , GRACE . WHE MIGHT LIVING GOD THE SAME JESUS PAUL PREACHED NOW THATS THE TRUTH . THEY WILL KILL THOSE LEFT THE REMNENT THE FOOLISH VIRGIN LEFT BEHIND .GLORY THE WOULD IS COMMING TO AN END AND ROME ITS FALSE PROPHET THE POPE , AND THAT CAIN CATHOLIC RELIGION SEE THEY KILL JUST LIKE CAIN , GOOD CATHOLIC BOY CAIN .THEIR END ID THE LAKE OF FIRE .PAUL SAID EYE HATH NOT SEEN NORE EAR HERD THOSE THINGS THAT GOD HAS FOR THEM THAT LOVE HIM , RIGHT NOW REVERSE IT AND THIS TIME PUT HELL INTHEIR INSTEAD OF GODS BLESSINGS , AN YOU WILL GET A TINY GLIMPSE .ONLY SALVATION IS THROUGH FATH IN WHAT JESUS DAED TO TAKE AWAY ALL SIN ON CALVERY YOURS AND MINE AND GIVE YOUR HEART TO HIM , AND ASK HIM TO LEAD YOU . HELL CLEAN YA UP , GIVE YOU FAITH A REVELATION OF HIS WORD , THEN FILL YOU WITH HIS SPIRIT , NOW REMEMBER IF ITS THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IS GOD AND GOD IS THE WORD HOW CAN GODS SWEET AND PRECIOUS HOLY SPIRIT EVER LEAT YOU ANYWARE BUT INTO HIS WORD THAT HE WROTE . SEE LOVE IS CORECTIVE , BUT LOVE ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH .

April 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm
(29) Bill says:

This abuse has gone on for decades. I was abused in the confessional at a boys school as a child. Then children didn’t know that trusted adults would be harming them for their own adult desires.

What puzzles me is this. Instead of hiding the truth, why aren’t the clergy afraid of what GOD has in store for them?

November 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm
(30) Charlene says:

But Scott–this pedophile priest was a criminal who committed 200 or so crimes against almost helpless children & NEVER was punished for his crimes! He should have gone to prison–he should have had to give all of his personal money to the church to pay his victims for counseling–these bishops who didnt do their job also should, by all rights & in total fairness, PAY out of their personal fortunes, for their incompetance/abetting the crimes.
ALL of these bishops who didnt do what was right need to be forced to give up their personal fortunes to pay the victims–why should insurance pay when it was THEY who purposely failed their Faithful?
I’m an estranged catholic & I cannot take any “spiritual guidance” from the likes of these men.
As far as Pope John Paul, I would have been very frightened to meet my Maker after overseeing the sex scandal in His church. After all Pope John Paul appointed all but about 5 or 6 of the Bishops who colluded in hiding the sex scandal all over the world–because he was Pope for so long–so these were his “homeboys” & they hid the scandal & protected the PRIESTS! Jesus Christ would be ANGRY.
I know this flies in the face of the Pope’s fast track to sainthood & the Catholic church’s desire to strike & cash in while the Pope’s still hot so to speak–but he is the LAST person that should be a saint.

February 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm
(31) Brian O says:

Anti-Catholic Bias? Ridiculous! More denial and soulless spin from professional apologists for the hopelessly floundering Catholic Church. The sad fact that people like author Scott Richert are STILL trying to protect the Vatican brand after so many wasted young lives and vile stories of abuse and corporate cover ups shows that nothing has yet been learned by this amorally adrift band of temple money changers. Disgusting and hopeless.

February 6, 2013 at 12:07 am
(32) Donna Gaspar says:

The Church is an Organized Crime Ring………………

February 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm
(33) JREC72 says:

I FEEL FOR THE VICTIMS AND HOPE THAT YOU HAVENT LOST FAITH IN GOD BECAUSE IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT WE ENDURE WE HAVE TO ANSWER TO GOD AS HE PASSES JUDGEMENT ON US AT THE END OF OUR TERM IN THIS WORLD. I HOPE THAT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AS FAR AS TO BRING THIS ALLEGATIONS TO THE PUBLIC IS TO TRY TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THE WAY THINGS ARE CONDUCTED IN THE FUTURE AND THAT IT DOES NOT HAPPEN TO CHILDREN ALL OVER THE WORLD I HOPE IT IS NOT FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT AND THAT IF THERE IS ANY FAILURE IN HUMAN JUSTICE REMEMBER!! DIVINE JUSTICE NEVER FAILS AND THOSE WHO HAVE PRAYED AGAINST A CHILD WILL ANSWER TO GOD AND WILL PERISH IN HELL FOR THAT SIN.
I WILL NEVER RENOUNCE MY CATHOLIC BELIEFS NOR I WILL RENOUNCE BEING A CATHOLIC BECAUSE I HAVE WITNESSED ALL THE GOOD THAT THIS INSTITUTION HAS DONE FOR PEOPLE IN MY COMMUNITY AND AROUND THE WORLD,WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THERE HAS ONLY BEEN 1 PERFECT SOUL AND THAT IS JESUS CHRIST AND HE DIED ON THE CROSS ASKING GOD FOR OUR SINS TO BE FORGIVEN REMEMBER HE IS ALIVE AMONG US OPEN YOUR HEARTS AND FIND “FORGIVNESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE OFFENDED YOU” IT IS NOT JUST A CATHOLIC BELIEF BUT A “UNIVERSAL ONE”

February 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm
(34) JO says:

Makes me sick to my stomach to be a Catholic. I have never been so disgusted with catholic hierarchy than I am now. The lack of compassion for the victims is revolting. As JREC72 says, however, my trust and beliefs are based on God and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Catholic church hierarchy are simply men with all the weaknesses and failings we all have.

February 17, 2013 at 8:45 am
(35) Lee says:

Sickened, disgusted, appalled by all of this. I have just watched “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” on HBO. How anyone can possibly allow themselves to believe this didn’t happen is appalling. How anyone can continue to allow this to happen eludes me. The “sanctity of the priesthood” is a joke, a sad, sad joke on how many thousands of victimized children….

March 2, 2013 at 2:16 am
(36) Ali G says:

What is anti-Catholicism? It is my belief that any person who claims to represent the Catholic Church and victimizes the church’s most innocent members or fails to protect those members are the most anti-catholic of them all.

These children were INNOCENT!

It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children. All of these people-nuns,priests, bishops, cardinals, & the pope should be held accountable.

May 16, 2013 at 11:33 am
(37) danusia bradley says:

Interesting how you focus on one writer and not the actual issue. You imply the rapes don’t matter because the statute of limitations long expired. As a former Catholic who has opened her eyes and mind from the restraints of religion, I can tell you that…raping 200 deaf boys is wrong whether you are a priest, or anyone else. It’s a disgusting shame how the church keeps disgracing itself with these coverups. I hope I am still alive to see the fall of the catholic church. That day will surely be glorious.

July 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(38) Deneuve says:

So when a priest committed a crime, he should be kept in the church for a Catholic trial instead of handing him over to the police. Wow. Imagine that.

July 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm
(39) Scott P. Richert says:

Deneuve, if that’s what you took away from this article, you clearly did not read it. Even Laurie Goodstein, in her article in the New York Times, admitted that Father Murphy “got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims.”

The problem wasn’t that Father Murphy was “kept in the church for a Catholic trial instead of handing him over to the police”; it was that no one, including the police, took the allegations seriously until after the statute of limitations had expired. At that point, it’s not a matter of handing Father Murphy over to the police; the police won’t do anything.

July 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm
(40) poinsetta says:

There were 12 apostles and 1 of them was Judas. The evil one will try to destroy the Catholic Church but Jesus said “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” Kings and kingdoms have come and gone, but the Church will be there till the end of time,.

August 3, 2013 at 12:47 am
(41) poinsetta says:

I understand there’s zero tolerance for sexual abuse in the Church now. Even an unsubstantiated accusation would put a priest on leave until after he is found innocent; if found innocent, his reputation has been ruined. Catholic schools are also the safest place in the U.S., with rules much stricter than those of the public schools. To be transparent, a non-Catholic — an Evangelical — was hired to oversee this. Hopefully, like the Protestant Reformation, the sexual abuse crisis will do good to the Church.

August 4, 2013 at 9:44 am
(42) Charlotte says:

Those who hurt children are just evil. Evil.

September 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm
(43) Kyle says:

I am deeply suspicious of this piece, for the reason that you seem to be addressing “bias” as opposed to the culture and institutional structures which produce these heinous crimes and perpetrators.

Anti-Catholic bias is a weak rhetorical gesture and deflection. Catholics need to bathe in the spirit of the Enlightenment, to dare to know for themselves, to be skeptical of what their bishops are saying to them.

I strongly doubt that there are as many “biased” anti-catholics as this piece and bishops seem to suggest. I do know that millions of Catholics around the world can no longer ignore the very obvious and transparent clerical culture that has destroyed the church’s hierarchy.

Thank God for Whistleblowers! Thank God for the victims who speak the truth!

September 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm
(44) Vinny Fanapoli says:

I continue to have faith in God, and goodness of man kind, I also have faith that these pervert pedophile priests will be rounded up, wrecked and removed in due time, one way, or the other.

And it’s very encouraging to see the problem addressed among Catholics in a very public, civil way. I can’t imagine what we’d do if we had his happen to my family.

And I only hope to see every organized religious order stop turning a blind eye too, and follow suit, taking the issue in an open, honest way. I hope the problem will be taken seriously out in the general population too.

Of course, people outside the Catholic church are bound to think themselves exceptional, as they point fingers, just as many Catholics do. People always do. It’s man’s nature to be blind in places where his own flag is flying, no matter what goes or who gets hurt on under it.

These people may be of other faiths, and have other agendas, including self dealing schemes and plans to undermine the faith and works of the Catholics, who may oppose demoralizing materialism, war profiteering, propaganda by sex appeal and perverse jingoism of abusive plundering states that turn their blind eyes to their poor and needy. They may find ways to undermine the authority and trust in the church, as countless nuns clean bed soars of the penniless sick in free hospitals around the world and priest are shot to death for holding up scripture to dictators, criminals and cartels and their agents, who trade wickedness for silver. The story is not new.

September 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(45) reaksautomatic says:

I don’t see how anyone can take a reasoned stand about this issue, without asking and answering some very serious questions first to place this issue into context. They are:

Which religion, or organized group that you may want to compare with the group of Catholic priests worldwide, has no pedophiles? These people will take their shots, even as they fail to consider and think how common the problem is in their religion, family, club, or neighborhood. [I'm going with none.]

How many priests are pedophile perverts out of all priests, 3%, 5%, 7%, 10%, 25%?

[I have read Justice department reports of 2 to 3%, even as someone here states it's 5%, a nice round, if suspicious number.]

And how does it compare to the overall general population, in US, World?

[I've seen 17% in some studies, and as high as 1/5 (20%) in others] .

Is the number of pervert priests higher than the number of pervert when added together in the general population, including scout step fathers, coaches, music teachers, step sisters, family friends, preachers, rabbis, Indian chiefs, crossing guards, janitors?

[I can find no study that comes close to saying there are statistically more priest perverts than perverts walking down a given street anywhere in the world].

According to my Googling, which includes statistics from various creditable groups that count these things, the overall population has about 3 to 5 times more pedophile perverts than the number of pedophile perverts embedded in the Catholic clergy.

October 28, 2013 at 4:37 am
(46) ChildofGod says:

This disease or plague is still in the catholic church. They’ll continue to abuse kids. Parents that continue to send their children to Catholic establishments will have themselves to blame for the lifetime effect of this abuse on their kids. Our society is worse for it because those kids may in turn become pedophiles and look for their own preys.

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