Pope's Handling Of Abuse Case Not That Big A Deal

The Times continues its “what did the Pope know and when did he know it” series today, this time with a story that claims Benedict “was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested,” having been appraised that “a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.” Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is unimpressed.

Let’s say Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope, did in fact learn of the transfer. So what? Wasn’t that what he expected to happen? After all, we know from a March 16 Times story that when Ratzinger’s subordinates recommended therapy for Hullermann, he approved it. That was the drill of the day: after being treated, the patient (I prefer the term offender) returns to work. It’s still the drill of the day in many secular quarters today, particularly in the public schools. A more hard-line approach, obviously, makes more sense, but the therapeutic industry is very powerful.

I am not at all aware of any public schools today where teachers who sexually molest their pupils are given their jobs back after a brief spell of therapy, but if that is in fact the case then I have been underestimating the power of the teachers’ unions for way too long. In any event, a response of “So what?” is astoundingly offensive, particularly if you read the documents concerning Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, the American priest who molested hundreds of deaf students. You can find them here, but I should warn you that they make for horrifying reading. This, for example, comes from an interview with Murphy by the archdiocese of Milwaukee, and is a profile of his victims. The fact that it’s handwritten somehow makes it even more terrible.

Victim profile

But, you know, that was all a long time ago, and they did things differently then. So what?