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Archbishop Weakland halted ecclesial trial of notorious priest

April 06, 2010

The Milwaukee priest who strongly criticized The New York Times for its reporting on the scandal surrounding the late Father Lawrence Murphy has apologized for failing to recall that Archbishop Rembert Weakland ordered Father Murphy’s trial halted. Father Murphy-- who, according to a 1993 social worker’s report, may have molested as many as 200 students at a school for the deaf between 1950 and 1974-- died two days after Archbishop Weakland communicated his decision to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“In service to the truth, it is important for one to admit when they make a factual error as I did,” says Father Thomas Brundage, who had previously asserted that contrary to the Times report, the canonical trial of Father Lawrence Murphy was never halted.

“On Good Friday (April 2, 2010) I received an e-mail from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Annysa Johnson with some documents that clearly show I was aware of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s intention to have the Father Lawrence Murphy case abated.”

“This draft letter became the text of the August 19, 1998 letter from Archbishop Weakland to then-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone in which Archbishop Weakland declared that he had instructed me to formally abate the case. This letter was not part of the file that I had access to and I had not seen that letter in nearly 12 years.”

“In all honesty, I do not remember this memo but I do admit to being wrong on this issue and I apologize for my mistake. Father Murphy’s death two days after Archbishop Weakland’s August 19, 1998 letter made the matter moot as de-facto death permanently abated the case.”


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  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Apr. 06, 2010 10:19 PM ET USA

    In Fr. Brundage's defense: The expression, clearly, should be understood as "made the matter moot as, de facto, death permanently abated the case"--as opposed to the abatement, de iure, requested by Weakland.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Apr. 06, 2010 8:00 AM ET USA

    "De facto death"? As opposed to "de jure death", as in, "he's not dead, but he ought to be"? Fr. Brundage is a good egg for coming forward - definitely a lawyer though, albeit in clerics.