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Holy See attorney rebuts AP claims on Oakland case

April 12, 2010

Jeffrey Lena, an attorney who represents the Holy See in US courts, has refuted the assertion in an Associated Press wire story that “the future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children.”

“The document on which media are basing their reportage appears to be a form letter sent in 1985 to Bishop John Cummins of Oakland, regarding a priest of the diocese who had been convicted of abuse,” Vatican Radio reported on April 10.

Mr. Lena explained that “the letter does not show then-Cardinal Ratzinger resisting pleas from the bishop to defrock the priest” and that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) “was merely attempting to determine whether the conditions for laicization obtained. In 1985, CDF was not responsible for investigating or trying abuse cases-- indeed, CDF only became responsible for trying abuse cases in 2001, largely as a result of then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s advocacy for swift and serious action to address the abuse crisis.”

Mr. Lena added that “when the letter urges Bishop Cummins to ‘use as much paternal care as possible,’ it is using curial language effectively saying that the bishop was responsible for ensuring that the priest in question cause no further harm.”


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  • Posted by: Cornelius - Apr. 12, 2010 7:59 AM ET USA

    Great - now, can we see this piece in the same secular media outlets that have been smearing the Holy Father? Any bets?