If there was any doubt that hatred of and hostility toward the Catholic Church persists, it was removed by the mob that has arisen howling “Resign!” at Pope Benedict XVI.
To American Catholics, the story of pedophile priests engaged in criminal abuse of children, of pervert priests seducing boys, is unfortunately all too familiar. That some bishops covered up for pedophiles and seducers and enabled corrupt clergy to continue to prey on boys was equally disgraceful.
But to American Catholics, this is an old story. The priests have been defrocked, some sent to prison, like John Geoghan, who was strangled in his cell. Bishops have been removed. “Zero tolerance” has been policy for a decade.
Pope Benedict came to America to apologize for what these men did. And no one has been more aggressive in rooting out what he calls the “filth” in the church. And as the recent scandals have hit Ireland and Germany, why the attack on the pope here in America?
Answer: The New York Times is conducting a vendetta against this traditionalist pope in news stories, editorials and columns.
“Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys,” blared the headline over a Laurie Goodstein story that began thus:
“Top Vatican officials—including the future Pope Benedict XVI—did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys ...
“In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at that time.”
The facts: That diabolical priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, was assigned to St. John’s School for the Deaf in 1950, before Joseph Ratzinger was even ordained.
Reports of his abuse of the deaf children surfaced in the 1950s. But, under three archbishops, nothing was done. Police and prosecutors were alerted by parents of the boys. Nothing was done.
Weakland, who became archbishop in 1977, did not write to Rome until 1996.
And as John Allen of National Catholic Reporter noted last week, Cardinal Ratzinger “did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001. ... Prior to 2001, Ratzinger had nothing personally to do with the vast majority of sex abuse cases, even the small percentage which wound up in Rome.”
By the time Cardinal Ratzinger was commissioned by John Paul II to clean out the stable, Murphy had been dead for three years.
Yet here is Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s summation of the case:
“Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed ‘God’s Rotweiler,’ when he was the church’s enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.”
In Goodstein’s piece, Weakland is a prelate who acted too slowly. The controversy over his clouded departure from the Milwaukee archdiocese is mentioned and passed over at the bottom of the story. It belonged higher.
For Weakland was a homosexual who confessed in a 1980 letter he was in “deep love” with a male paramour who shook down the archbishop for $450,000 in church funds as hush money to keep his lover’s mouth shut about their squalid affair.
According to Rod Dreher, Weakland moved Father William Effinger, who would die in prison, from parish to parish, knowing Effinger was a serial pederast.
When one of Effinger’s victims sued the archdiocese but lost because of a statute of limitations, Weakland counter-sued and extracted $4,000 from the victim of his predator priest.
Dreher describes Weakland’s tenure thus:
“He directed Catholic schools ... to teach kids how to use condoms as part of AIDS education and approved a graphic sex-education program for parochial-school kids that taught ‘there is no right and wrong’ on the issues of abortion, contraception and premarital sex. He has advocated for gay rights and women’s ordination, bitterly attacked Pope John Paul II, denounced pro-lifers as ‘fundamentalist’ and declared that one could be both pro-choice and a Catholic in good standing.”
Speaking of sex-abuse victims in 1988, Weakland was quoted: “Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often streetwise.”
Just the kind of priest the Times loves, and just the kind of source on whom the Times relies when savaging the pope and bashing the church.
As the Catholic League’s Bill Donahue relates, 80 percent of the victims of priestly abuse have been males and “most of the molesters gays.”
And as the Times’ Richard Berke blurted to the Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association 10 years ago, often, “three-quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals.”
Is there perhaps a conflict of interest at The New York Times, when covering a traditionalist Catholic pope?