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Canadian bishop defends Pope, criticizes Archbishop Weakland, New York Times

Catholic World News - March 30, 2010

Denouncing “attempts to personally embroil Benedict XVI in the sex abuse scandals,” Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary has written a pastoral letter in which he criticizes the inaccurate reporting of The New York Times and notes that retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee “did nothing” about the notorious Father Lawrence Murphy between 1977 and 1996.

The New York Times on March 25, and parroted by other newspapers, accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of intervening to prevent a Wisconsin priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, from facing penalties for cases of sexual abuse of minors. The story is not even supported by the evidence of the Times,” Bishop Henry writes.

He continues:

Cardinal Ratzinger does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop (Tarcisio) Bertone, agreed that there should be a full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.

Furthermore, under canon law at the time, the principal responsibility for sexual abuse cases lay with the local bishop. Archbishop (Rembert) Weakland had from 1977 onward the responsibility of administering penalties to Father Murphy. He did nothing until 1996. It was at that point that Cardinal Ratzinger's office became involved, and it subsequently did nothing to impede the local process.

In August 1998, Archbishop Weakland writes that he has halted the canonical trial and penal process against Father Murphy and has immediately begun the process to remove him from ministry. That same month, Father Murphy dies.

The New York Times flatly got the story wrong. Readers may want to speculate on why.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: raymondfrice9926 - Mar. 30, 2010 5:15 PM ET USA

    If we laicized every priest who didn't keep the rules, the Pope would be a hermit and the cardinals a committee!!

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Mar. 30, 2010 11:37 AM ET USA

    It is nice to see a Bishop with enough integrity to put out the truth about this matter. Where are the American Bishops? Shame on them.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Mar. 30, 2010 9:40 AM ET USA

    Retired or not, it is time someone laicized Rembert Weakland.

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