What Goodstein and Dowd and Brayton and the Associated Press, which also contributed to the rhetorical bonfire (not to mention the increasingly moralistic Richard Dawkins), doesn’t tell readers is that it was Weakland, who reportedly archdiocese funds to pay for his homosexual lover and who Goodstein treated with kid gloves in an earlier story, sat on the case for 22 years before even informing the Vatican about it.
Oh wait. Did I say that? That the person who was the chief impediment to prosecuting Murphy was a homosexual priest? And did I say that Murphy was himself a homosexual? That his victims were primarily post-pubescent teenage boys and that he gave one person a list of gay bars in different cities? And did I mention that 81 percent of all the victims of priest sexual abuse cases are boys?
I did? I am so sorry. I take it all back. Shame on me for mentioning it. What was I thinking?
Anyway, back to Weakland … when he did finally send a letter to the Doctrine of the Congregation of Faith, the arm of the Vatican overseen by Ratzinger in 1996, it was for advice only, since the Congregation did not become responsible for such cases until 2001. There is literally no evidence that Ratzinger even saw the letter, since his deputy, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, was the one who responded to Weakland.
The worst thing you can say about the incident from the perspective of the Vatican, is that they didn’t send a letter back for 9 months. A slightly less than efficient bureaucracy. Imagine that. And when Bertone did respond, it was to suggest that the archdiocese use pastoral measures to resolve the situation rather than penal procedures. That was only a suggestion on limited information and was probably made because that was the fastest way, given the longer trial process, of taking away his ministry so he wouldn’t be a danger to anyone.
In fact, neither Ratzinger nor the Vatican hindered the judicial process on Murphy, but the process was never slowed down at all. “The documents,” Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, show that the canonical trial or penal process against Father Murphy was never stopped by anyone.”
The Pope’s detractors got off on a bad foot when they took the information uncritically from attorneys suing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who have several pending cases against the Catholic Church in the U. S. Supreme Court–and from Milwaukee Archbishop Weakland who had control of the case from 1974 to 1996–a period of time in which, other than move the priest away from the vicinity of boys, he did precisely nothing.