by Pa Rock
Yesterday I suggested, barely tongue-in-cheek, that Pope Benedict XVI should be publicly horse-whipped for protecting a Wisconsin priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who had sodomized boys at a school for the deaf. At the time the Vatican supposedly became aware of this rapist priest, the Pope, then known as Cardinal Ratzinger, caused Church proceedings against the vile priest to be dropped - primarily to protect the reputation and assets of the Catholic Church.
Father Murphy, the former head of St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wisconsin, sexually abused over two hundred boys during a twenty-four year period. He raped them in his car, in the confessional, and even at his mother's home. The Vatican's current response to this story is that they did not know about the rapes between 1950 and 1974, when they were occurring, so what's a Pope to do?
Problem is, Cardinal Ratzinger learned about the abuse in 1996 when the Archbishop of Milwaukee alerted his office in the Vatican about the matter and asked for permission to hold a Church trial - a poor substitute for a civil trial. The Vatican initially agreed to the plan, but Cardinal Ratzinger personally derailed it after the malignant priest wrote to him saying that he was ill, and asking to live out his days "in thee dignity of my priesthood."
Yup, the "dignity" of his priesthood. Father Murphy died in 1998 without ever being disciplined by the Church - or the state either, for that matter. Father Murphy died a dignified priest, and two hundred middle-aged men suffered yet another betrayal by their Church.
Pedophile priest scandals rocked America in the 1990's. Literally hundreds of rapist priests had been protected by the Church over the preceding fifty years, often being transferred to new parishes when problems arose, or shuffled off into worthless programs designed to cure their pedophilia. The only thing that moving the offending priests accomplished was to spread the molestation. The American Church eventually paid the price (dearly) for the blatant neglect of its responsibility to the children in its care. That horrendous neglect brought many dioceses to the brink of bankruptcy through lawsuits and out-of-court settlements,and the Church's one might prestige did a nose-dive straight into the crapper.
This past year priest sex scandals have surfaced in Germany (the homeland of the current Pope), The Netherlands, and even Italy - right in the Pope's front yard. Twenty-four priests at a diocese in Verona, Italy, have recently been accused of sexually and physically abusing 67 students at a school for the deaf. One victim, Alessandro Vantini, now an adult, described the serial sodomy as "so brutal and relentless that I felt as if I were dead."
Rape is about power and control. Children are defenseless, particularly when they are abused by authority figures. They are defenseless and confused. How especially tragic to have been defenseless and confused and deaf!
The problem of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is systemic, a result of a male authoritarian hierarchy composed of "celibate" power-and-control-wielders. The problems will continue as long as the Church maintains its hoary traditions of male privilege and Papal infallibility.
Child rape in such a system will not go away because of an occasional pissy Papal epistle. Things must change in a substantive way, and heads must roll. Quite obviously, the first head that needs to roll in order for massive change to begin is that of the big kahuna, Pope Benedict XVI. Anything less will sentence thousands of more children to a life of hell.
The time has come to fire this Pope!