Friday, March 12, 2010

Bulls Eye

Pope's former diocese admits error over priest

BERLIN — Pope Benedict XVI's former German diocese said Friday it made a mistake when the pontiff was archbishop in allowing a priest suspected to have abused a child to return to pastoral work. However, it said Benedict wasn't involved in the decision.
The details came hours after Germany's top bishop briefed Pope Benedict XVI on the spiraling cases of clerical sex abuse in the pontiff's native Germany and said the pope encouraged him to pursue the truth and assist the victims.

At the Vatican, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said the pope was "greatly dismayed" and "deeply moved" as he was being briefed on the scandal during his 45-minute private audience in the Vatican. Zollitsch said he briefed the pope in particular on the measures being taken so far to confront the scandal. (I bet he was dismayed. Secrets coming out of his closet.)

"The Holy Father was very satisfied with our decisions," Zollitsch told a news conference after the meeting.

In Germany, the Munich archdiocese said the chaplain was sent to Munich in 1980 for therapy. The diocese says it was made aware of the "serious errors" by the Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung which first reported on it for its Saturday edition.

The man, identified only as H., was allowed to stay in a vicarage while undergoing therapy — a decision in which then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger was involved, the statement said. It said officials believe it was known the therapy was related to suspected "sexual relations with boys."

However, it says a lower-ranking official — vicar general Gerhard Gruber — then allowed him to help in pastoral work in Munich, a decision for which he takes "full responsibility."

The Vatican press office noted in a brief statement Friday evening that Gruber was assuming "full responsibility" for the transfer of the priest, after therapy, to pastoral duties. Without further comment, the statement included a link to the Munich archdiocese's statement in German.

The archdiocese says there were no accusations against the chaplain relating to his February 1980 to August 1982 spell in Munich. He then moved to nearby Grafing, but was suspended in early 1985 following accusations of sexual abuse — which the archdiocese didn't detail. The following year, he was convicted of sexually abusing minors.

The conviction resulted in an 18-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 4,000 marks, now worth nearly $2,800, the archdiocese said.

Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to early 1982.
Gruber told The Associated Press by telephone Friday that he was in sole charge of staffing decisions.

"Personnel matters were delegated," Gruber said. "I decided that on my own."
Gruber also said Benedict would not have been aware of his decision because the case load was too big.

"You have to know that we had some 1,000 priests in the diocese at the time," Gruber said. "The cardinal could not deal with everything, he had to rely on his vicar general." (It is traditional for the 'captain' to take responsibility for the actions of his officers. What's good for the bishops in Ireland should be good for the bishop in Rome.)

After his conviction, the chaplain was ordered to undergo psychotherapy, the archdiocese said. In 1986 and 1987, he was assigned to a home for seniors and was then a curate and an administrator until 2008. (I can't think of too many organizations which would keep an employee on the books and then promote him after being convicted of pedophelia. I am not over looking the fact this man was also allowed to function as a full priest in good sacramental standing. Too bad he didn't get married. What a crock.)

At least 170 former students from Catholic schools in Germany have come forward recently with claims of physical and sexual abuse, including at an all-boys choir once led by the pope's brother.
Zollitsch also said he briefed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on measures implemented in Germany, and that the Vatican is considering a set of universal norms to deal with cases of clerical sex abuse.

"I'm grateful for the encouragement he (Benedict) gave me to continue carrying out our measures in a decisive and courageous way," he said.

Benedict hasn't commented on the German scandal himself. But he decried the sexual abuse of children as a "heinous crime" after he summoned Irish bishops to Rome last month to discuss the even more widespread scandal in the Irish church.

Besides the cases in Germany and Ireland, three retired priests at a Catholic school in Austria were relieved of their clerical duties this week after allegations of physical and sexual abuse emerged. Two other priests in Austria have resigned amid similar allegations.

In the Netherlands, Catholic bishops announced an independent inquiry into more than 200 allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests at church schools and apologized to victims.
But of all the European scandals, the German abuse allegations are particularly sensitive because Germany is Benedict's homeland, and because the scandals involve the prestigious choir that was led by his brother, Georg Ratzinger, from 1964 until 1994.

Zollitsch said he and Benedict did not discuss the allegations surrounding the pontiff's brother.
Ratzinger has repeatedly said the sexual abuse allegations date from before his tenure as choir director and that he never heard of them, although he acknowledged slapping pupils as punishment.

According to a poll conducted by the Emnid institute for N24 television, a full 86 percent of Germans contend the Roman Catholic Church has failed to do enough to explain the allegations of abuse in church-run schools and institutions. Only 10 percent of the 1,000 people polled on March 10 felt the church was doing enough.

Also, 68 percent of those polled say the abuse scandal has raised their criticism of the church's educational abilities, while 28 percent still trust the church to teach their children. (Which means 72% don't trust the Church with their children.)

Bishop Stephan Ackermann, who has been appointed by the church to handle abuse allegations in Germany, said that he would also follow up on any charges against bishops. (Apparently this excludes the one now Bishop of Rome.)

"Bishops or parishes that are not cooperative will be asked for information," Ackermann said Thursday on ZDF television.

Winfield reported from Vatican City. Associated Press writers Verena Schmitt-Roschmann, Kirsten Grieshaber and Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this report.


If any of us wondered why Bernie Law and others found jobs in the Vatican, now we know. Someone wanted to set a precedent--just in case. This whole sordid mess we call a hierarchy needs to implode. I can't imagine the anger which will be unleashed if the Legion investigation is a white wash. Mea culpas without restitution are just so many empty Latin words.


  1. Colleen, what I find astonishing in this story is the claim that Ratzinger as Cardinal "didn't know" that the perpetrator had been returned to pastoral work. Yet a long standing Vatican directive from the 60's, refined later when he was at the CDF, dictated that all such cases were to be referred directly to the Vatican, and handled centrally. Are we really to believe that either Munich disregarded an important Vatican directive, and instead handled things entirely at a junior level, or that matters were referred from junior level directly to the Vatican, bypassing the man supposedly in charge?

    Or to put it more simply, if then Cardinal Ratzinger genuinely did not know how the matter was being dealt with - why not? (It is agreed that he did know it was a matter involving sexual relations with boys.)

  2. Maybe Ratzinger was and is still under the impression the Nuremberg defense holds water.

  3. Sounds to me like Bene is saying "I know nothing" just like Sgt Schultz.

    If he truly cared about children he would have taken care of them. If he was a true leader in persona Christi he would have led in a Christ-like manner. He did not. I can't believe that Benedict and his brother never spoke about this matter.

    Their policy seems to be of when there is an allegation or revelation out in the open against a priest molesting children that then they will just get rid of the pedophile, that they've been harboring, from the Church.

    Nice policy if you can continue with it and get away with it. Mom's are not happy about how the Church is behaving about sexual molestation of our children. Dad's aren't happy about it either. They are leaving the pews and wiping the dust off as they leave.

    This scenario of Bene's will not fly but can only implode upon them.

  4. Thank you, Colleen, for giving us the chance to chime in on this story!

    This "story" is not gonna wash! The guy who fell on his sword for the pope is like the guy who claimed to have fathered John Edwards' baby; this is not to be believed!

    Ratzi - delegating authority? No, just delegating sword falling!

    I smell smoke. I'm just wondering how many fires there are and which one is gonna flame up next! This papacy is full of such naivete. And the rolling scandal here is only gonna grow and spread as all such scandals do. In no time this is bound to reach where the pope does not want it to reach.

    How long till he has to resign?

  5. butterfly:

    Remember, the pope's brother said: "People did not speak of such things" - of course not! And his brother also said that people just kept quiet, even when they knew things!

    Put 2 and 2 together, as these naive prelates pretend never to do. Yes, they must have known! Of course they NEVER spoke about what they knew! Just like the holocaust!

  6. Sorry to take over this thread, Colleen, but here in a NY Times article is confirmation of what we all think:

    There was immediate skepticism that Benedict, as archbishop, would not have known of the details of the case.

    The Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, who once worked at the Vatican Embassy in Washington and became an early and well-known whistle-blower on sexual abuse in the church, said the vicar general’s claim was not credible.

    “Nonsense,” said Father Doyle, who has served as an expert witness in sexual abuse lawsuits. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”

    Looks like the wheels are really coming off here! (and me on retreat next week...)

    Article url below, quote on page 2:

  7. You are so right TheraP. They do not want to talk or discuss anything. Tyrants never do. They cannot listen and they cannot hear. The children who are molested are nothing but collateral damage to them. A heinous crime indeed!

    "They either knew or should have known" that these heinous crimes were being committed against children and that quote from the Nuremberg trials stands out as a message for the Pope and those who cover for him to clean up their act. They may wind up in court one day. The Pope Trials - What did he know and when did he know it and what did he do about it? What did the entire Church do about it? Isn't the entire Church on trial now?

    The Pope's protectors answer so far is a bald face lie.

  8. And here's why the "bald faced lie":

    A quote from Hans Kung re the pope's requirement as "prefect" of the Doctrine of the Faith:

    As recently as May 18, 2001, Ratzinger sent to all the bishops around the world a solemn epistle concerning serious crimes (Epistula de delictis gravioribus), in which cases of abuse were put under “papal secrecy” (secretum Pontificium), the violation of which entails severe ecclesiastical penalties.

    So.... on pain of who knows what, they must keep the pope's secrets! It's like the threats of an abuser: if you tell, here's what will happen! Pre-arranged Cover-up, via threats!

  9. This comment is somewhat applicalbe to these last several postings specifically the most recent about AB Chaput. I am currently reading "The Entity Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage" by Eric Frattini, has anyone else read it, and if not go check it out on Amazon- neat book. Anyway, in chapter 18 the introduction is from second Corinthians, 11:13-15, and I quote from his book:

    For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, For even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness; their end shall be according to their works.

  10. "After his conviction, the chaplain was ordered to undergo psychotherapy, the archdiocese said. In 1986 and 1987, he was assigned to a home for seniors and was then a curate and an administrator until 2008.

    (I can't think of too many organizations which would keep an employee on the books and then promote him after being convicted of pedophelia. I am not over looking the fact this man was also allowed to function as a full priest in good sacramental standing. Too bad he didn't get married. What a crock.)"

    ## It wasn't a promotion, nor any kind of reward - it was a compromise between punishing him, and letting him continue to function as a priest. An old people's home is hardly a good place for a paedophile to find fresh prey.

    Was the bishop's course of action the right one *in the circumstances* ? I don't know - I think there is a case for saying it was.

  11. Josef Ratzinger was ordained in, worked in & was mentored by his three predecessor Archibishops of he most certainly KNEW his fellow clergy. As an long term insider (which is what a Seminary professor is!!!), he would know all the dirt.

    As the Metropolitan Archbishop it was his JOB to know the 'problem personnel'. Breifing a new AB on these things is standard proceedure. And since this one priest mentioned was the Vicar General (if I understood the article correctly), he was the 2nd in command. The man who actually runs the operation of a diocese for his bishop.

    ...anything BUT a flunky!

    Methinks little Josef is in trouble:)

    And please do not tell me that he & his own brother Georg knew NOTHING about his choir!

    Methinks both Georg und Josef hat angst:)