BY Advocate Contributors
March 31 2010 5:25 PM ET
COMMENTARY: Every day we read new revelations about cover-ups of pedophile priests by the highest echelon of the Vatican — specifically by Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. As The Advocate’s readers may recall, Pope Benedict is the same person who forbids condoms in the age of HIV, bars women from the priesthood, and has written three ugly documents condemning homosexuality as “intrinsically evil.” In his view, gays are “guilty of a moral evil” and “disordered.”
For 25 years Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which addresses all priestly pedophilia charges. How did he do? Let’s take a look at four examples from Ratzinger’s track record while he was in charge:
In Ukiah, Calif., Sister Jane Kelly learned in the 1990s about a young Central American priest in her diocese who she believed was molesting Hispanic youths. For two years she tried to get church officials to respond. When all Kelly got in return was silence, she went to the press with the information. It turns out the priest, the Reverend Jorge Hume Salas, was rushed into ordination with little or no training by Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann, who was having an affair with him. Kelly wrote Cardinal Ratzinger on three occasions about the bishop’s role and got a response only when she told him she was writing a book. Ratzinger told her that he knew nothing about the bishop, so she should take the matter up with the bishops’ conference. Ziemann resigned after admitting to the sexual relationship, and Kelly was summarily expelled from her order after going through a harrowing ordeal in a mental hospital (assigned there by her superiors). When she was thrown out, Kelly was 75 years old and had spent 58 years as a Catholic sister, most of the time running a soup kitchen for the homeless.
Meanwhile, in the diocese of Milwaukee, the Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy, who was head of a school for the deaf, was molesting as many as 200 deaf boys. In 1996, Archbishop Rembert Weakland wrote Ratzinger about the horrible situation. He never received a reply. Six months later, Weakland wrote Ratzinger’s deputy, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who has since been elevated to become a cardinal and is the pope’s current secretary of state. In 1997, Bertone advised Weakland to discipline Murphy following the rules of a 1962 Vatican document that emphasizes secrecy. Weakland later went to the Vatican to stress how serious these allegations were and how profoundly affected the deaf community was by the charges, but he was ignored.
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