Look, I’m generally anti-religious, but I try to steer clear of the more militant leanings of guys like Hitchens and Harris. After reading this, though, it’s hard not to be filled with their zealous (anti-zealous?) rage:
Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.
Instead of being disciplined, Father Murphy was quietly moved by Archbishop William E. Cousins of Milwaukee to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes, schools and, as one lawsuit charges, a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest.
Sure, I know you’re thinking, “Well, what else is new?” Unlike previous cases, this one directly involves Cardinal Ratzinger — the future Pope Benedict XVI — to whom Father Murphy wrote a direct appeal that ended his canonical prosecution. The Pope is afforded protection from prosecution as a head of state of the Holy See, but so were Idi Amin and the Shah of Iran.
It’s time to take the Catholic Church to the cleaners for their vicious and destructive crimes, and to treat it like any other criminal organization — with contempt and loathing for its leadership.
What gets me most riled up is this:
At the same time, the officials’ reluctance to defrock a sex abuser shows that on a doctrinal level, the Vatican has tended to view the matter in terms of sin and repentance more than crime and punishment.
You want to make condoms and contraceptives illegal, make a woman’s choice about her own body murder, prosecute end-of-life care, and criminalize gay relationships. That all deserves crime and punishment. But your own crimes? Against children, the most vulnerable and trusting of your flock? Eh, fuck it, that’s your own sin to take care of and none of the government’s business. Here, in the most truly vile of crimes, the Catholic Church simply moves the perpetrator around while ignoring the victim.
Sue the Church until the Pope himself has to walk around jangling the collection box to an unwilling crowd. They deserve nothing.
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