Tidlig søndag morgen leste jeg en artikkel i Aftenposten, som åpna slik: “Tidligere denne uken kom det frem at pave Benedict XVI var en av dem som ble varslet om overgrep av en prest i Milwaukee, Wisconsin i USA. Han gjorde ingenting med varslene, og overgrepene fortsatte.”
Jeg syntes det var ille slik ukorrekt informasjon ble trykket om vår pave, og skrev derfor til journalisten: “Jeg regner med at du har studert denne tragiske saken grundig før du skriver om den i Aftenposten, og vet at presten forgrep seg på gutter fra 1950-1974, og at Vatikanet og kardinal Ratzinger ikke ble varslet før i 1996, (bare kort tid før presten døde) hvorfor skriver du da ting som er direkte feilaktige?”
Jeg fikk svar fra journalisten ganske raskt, der han skriver: “Her påpeker du helt klart en unøyaktighet. Jeg skal rette opp.” Og har retter det, for man kan se at siden er oppdatert søndag kl 10.30 – men han korrigerer bare delvis, og skriver nå: “Tidligere denne uken kom det frem at pave Benedict XVI var en av dem som ble varslet om overgrep av en prest i Milwaukee, Wisconsin i USA. Meldingen kom i 1996, mens han fortsatt var kardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Han gjorde ingenting med den.”
Søndag kveld skriver jeg derfor på nytt til jouranlisten: “Jeg takker for raskt svar og på en korrigering av artikkelen, men det du skriver nå er fortsatt ikke korrekt: … “ – og så gå jeg litt mer inn på hva som har skjedd i denne saken, ting som jeg nederst i dette innlegegr ville redegjøre enda bedre for. Denne andre e-posten har jeg så langt ikke mottat noe svar på, og det er heller ikke kommet flere korrigeringer av Aftenpostens artikkel.
La det være klart at jeg syns det er ille at Kirken og mange andre institisjoner i samfunnet i tidligere år tok altfor lett på overgrepssaker – og i dag blir man med rette sjokkert over hvordan man reagerte på 70-, 80- og 90-tallet – men det er likevel ikke OK å bruke slike saker fra tidligere år til å med urette angripe vår pave. Jeg syns heller ikke Aftenposten er spesielt å kladre mht dette, de kan vel sammenlignes med mange andre aviser i verden, også når det gjelder å skrive om ting de ikke helt har greie på.
Jeg har selv oppdatert meg selv om detaljene i denne saken i dag, og gjengir her – skrevet av Father Raymond J. de Souza – informasjon basert på New York Times’ (det var de som først skrev om dette) egen informasjon:
15 May 1974
Abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy is alleged by a former student at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. In fact, accusations against Father Murphy go back more than a decade.
12 September 1974
Father Murphy is granted an official “temporary sick leave” from St. John’s School for the Deaf. He leaves Milwaukee and moves to northern Wisconsin, in the Diocese of Superior, where he lives in a family home with his mother. He has no official assignment from this point until his death in 1998. He does not return to live in Milwaukee. No canonical penalties are pursued against him.
9 July 1980
Officials in the Diocese of Superior write to officials in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee about what ministry Father Murphy might undertake in Superior. Archbishop Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee since 1977, has been consulted and says it would be unwise to have Father Murphy return to ministry with the deaf community. There is no indication that Archbishop Weakland foresees any other measures to be taken in the case.
17 July 1996
More than 20 years after the original abuse allegations, Archbishop Weakland writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, claiming that he has only just discovered that Father Murphy’s sexual abuse involved the sacrament of confession — a still more serious canonical crime. The allegations about the abuse of the sacrament of confession were in the original 1974 allegations. Weakland has been archbishop of Milwaukee by this point for 19 years.
It should be noted that for sexual-abuse charges, Archbishop Weakland could have proceeded against Father Murphy at any time. The matter of solicitation in the sacrament of confession required notifying Rome, but that too could have been done as early as the 1970s.
10 September 1996
Father Murphy is notified that a canonical trial will proceed against him. Until 2001, the local bishop had authority to proceed in such trials. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is now beginning the trial. It is noteworthy that at this point, no reply has been received from Rome indicating that Archbishop Weakland knew he had that authority to proceed.
24 March 1997
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, advises a canonical trial against Father Murphy.
14 May 1997
Archbishop Weakland writes to Archbishop Bertone to say that the penal process against Father Murphy has been launched, and notes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has advised him to proceed even though the statute of limitations has expired. In fact, there is no statute of limitations for solicitation in the sacrament of confession.
Throughout the rest of 1997 the preparatory phases of penal process or canonical trial is underway. On 5 January 1998 the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee says that an expedited trial should be concluded within a few months.
12 January 1998
Father Murphy, now less than eight months away from his death, appeals to Cardinal Ratzinger that, given his frail health, he be allowed to live out his days in peace.
6 April 1998
Archbishop Bertone, noting the frail health of Father Murphy and that there have been no new charges in almost 25 years, recommends using pastoral measures to ensure Father Murphy has no ministry, but without the full burden of a penal process. It is only a suggestion, as the local bishop retains control.
13 May 1998
The Bishop of Superior, where the process has been transferred to and where Father Murphy has lived since 1974, rejects the suggestion for pastoral measures. Formal pre-trial proceedings begin on 15 May 1998, continuing the process already begun with the notification that had been issued in September 1996.
30 May 1998
Archbishop Weakland, who is in Rome, meets with officials at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, including Archbishop Bertone but not including Cardinal Ratzinger, to discuss the case. The penal process is ongoing. No decision taken to stop it, but given the difficulties of a trial after 25 years, other options are explored that would more quickly remove Father Murphy from ministry.
19 August 1998
Archbishop Weakland writes that he has halted the canonical trial and penal process against Father Murphy and has immediately begun the process to remove him from ministry — a quicker option.
21 August 1998
Father Murphy dies. His family defies the orders of Archbishop Weakland for a discreet funeral