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New York Times again seeks to link Pope to abuse scandal

Catholic World News - March 26, 2010

The New York Times has reported that Pope Benedict XVI was informed about the parish assignment given to a priest who had been accused of molesting children. But the Vatican has countered that the Times story contains no new information to contradict previous statements that the Pope was unaware of the assignment.

For the second consecutive day, the New York Times devoted a top front-page headline to a story that attempted to link the Pope directly to the burgeoning sex-abuse scandal in his native Germany. Also for the second day, the Vatican press office issued a highly unusual statement responding directly to the newspaper account.

In 1980, when then-Cardinal Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich, a priest of the nearby Essen diocese-- known in Church documents only as "H" but identified by the New York Times as Peter Hullermann-- was sent to Munich for counseling. Cardinal Ratzinger approved an arrangement whereby Father Hullerman was housed in a Munich rectory. Later the vicar general of the Munich archdiocese assigned Father Hullerman to parish work. The vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, said that he made that assignment on his own initiative, without informing Cardinal Ratzinger. The Vatican has stated that the future Pontiff was unaware of Father Hullerman's parish assignment.

In its front-page account of March 26, the Times questions whether Cardinal Ratzinger was indeed ignorant of the parish assignment, noting that as Archbishop of Munich he was sent a copy of a memo announcing it. An official of the Munich archdiocese pointed out to the Times that the memo was a routine one, written for the files, and "unlikely to have landed on the archbishop's desk." As many as 1,000 such memos are written every year with an official copy to the archbishop, another Church spokesman said.

In his March 26 rebuttal to the Times article, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the press office, said that the headline story "contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated." The Vatican stands by its statement that the Pope was unaware of the parish assignment, Father Lombardi said, and "rejects any other version of events as mere speculation."

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: barbf71912617 - Mar. 29, 2010 1:38 AM ET USA

    Perhaps i'm still tainted by the Kennedy "magic bullet" but ~ it seems WAY to coincidental that this garbage has been dumped just after so many "Catholic" members of Congress just proved they believe themselves above Church dogma. then there's the lovely nuns, especially Sister Keehan, who took such delight in voicing betrayal of their vows while spreading confusion & scandal. Could there be a better time for the devil to try and tarnish the Holy Father & protect his servants? PRAY TO MARY NOW!

  • Posted by: Salome - Mar. 26, 2010 9:55 PM ET USA

    The BBC website is handling these Vatican responses to finger-pointing at the Pope in headlines beginning 'Vatican denies'. Oh dear! It is no longer possible to 'deny' and be believed. The word has been coloured, first by 'holocaust denier', and more lately by 'climate change denier'. The poor old Vatican, we must assume, must be 'in denial'. The mainstream media won't even make it possible to set the record straight.

  • Posted by: michaelrafferty5029 - Mar. 26, 2010 6:04 PM ET USA

    So who should we trust? The last time that a major American newspaper was facing off against a member of the Catholic hierarchy was the Boston Globe v. Cardinal Bernard Law.

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