Reminiscent of Pontious Pilate’s hand washing, Weakland “kicked” the Murphy case up to the Vatican

In 1993, with complaints about Father Murphy landing on his desk, Archbishop Weakland hired a social worker specializing in treating sexual offenders to evaluate him. After four days of interviews, the social worker said that Father Murphy had admitted his acts, had probably molested about 200 boys and felt no remorse.

However, it was not until 1996 that Archbishop Weakland tried to have Father Murphy defrocked. The reason, he wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger, was to defuse the anger among the deaf and restore their trust in the church. He wrote that since he had become aware that “solicitation in the confessional might be part of the situation,” the case belonged at the doctrinal office.

With no response from Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop Weakland wrote a different Vatican office in March 1997 saying the matter was urgent because a lawyer was preparing to sue, the case could become public and “true scandal in the future seems very possible.”

Recently some bishops have argued that the 1962 norms dictating secret disciplinary procedures have long fallen out of use. But it is clear from these documents that in 1997, they were still in force.

But the effort to dismiss Father Murphy came to a sudden halt after the priest appealed to Cardinal Ratzinger for leniency.

In an interview, Archbishop Weakland said that he recalled a final meeting at the Vatican in May 1998 in which he failed to persuade Cardinal Bertone and other doctrinal officials to grant a canonical trial to defrock Father Murphy. (In 2002, Archbishop Weakland resigned after it became public that he had an affair with a man and used church money to pay him a settlement.)

Archbishop Weakland said this week in an interview, “The evidence was so complete, and so extensive that I thought he should be reduced to the lay state, and also that that would bring a certain amount of peace in the deaf community.”

Father Murphy died four months later at age 72 and was buried in his priestly vestments. Archbishop Weakland wrote a last letter to Cardinal Bertone explaining his regret that Father Murphy’s family had disobeyed the archbishop’s instructions that the funeral be small and private, and the coffin kept closed.

“In spite of these difficulties,” Archbishop Weakland wrote, “we are still hoping we can avoid undue publicity that would be negative toward the church.”

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Editor’s note: Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s lame attempt to avoid responsibility in this matter  is probably the only thing that even remotely links the Pope to this scandal.

(Then) Cardinal Ratzinger would have been primarily charged with evaluating the doctrinal issues regarding Fr. Murphy’s alleged violation of the sacrament of reconciliation … not the abuse allegations.

Weakland had all the authority and evidence he needed to have Fr. Murphy removed from priestly ministry for abuse, but Weakland was simply too guilty, too gay, and too gutless to get it done. It was much easier (and politically, much smarter) for Weakland to key in on Fr. Murphy’s alleged violation of the confessional, something which gave Weakland a perfect excuse to “kick the matter upstairs” and let the Vatican “take the rap” and the “heat”.

Weakland’s own lurid personal behavior while in office is a scandal of even greater proportions, and it should be noted that it was Benedict XVI who finally demanded Weakland’s resignation.

Read some more “deep background” on this

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