My father in law has a favorite expression about the media I’ve quoted before: “Liars from Satan.”
With the exception of the lies about Pius XII, that’s no more true than in these attacks on Pope Benedict XVI.
Let’s summarize what we know so far about the case of Fr. Murphy in Milwaukee, and last week’s New York Times piece:
1. Murphy was head of a school for deaf children from the 1950s to mid-1970s, and had lots of allegations against him.
2. The allegations against Murphy were known about since at least 1974, but canonical action was not taken till 20 years later. So the inaction was the responsibility of the local bishop.
3. The Archbishop of Milwaukee during all those years was none other than Rembert G. Weakland, OSB, author of the New Mass, who once said that it’s a mortal sin to vote for Pat Buchanan, banned EWTN advertising from his diocese, trashed his cathedral at parishioners’ expense, called Mother Angelica all sorts of names, once threatened to go into schism, embezzled money to pay off his own sex abuse victims, and finally “came out” as an active homosexual in his memoir last year.
4. The reporter who wrote the Times piece wrote a glowing article on Weakland last year to coincide with his memoir. The article mentioned SNAP delivering documents to the Vatican, when the documents had not been delivered at the time the article was written. These point to a clear journalistic bias.
5. *Someone* supposedly wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith–which was not in charge of sex abuse cases at the time–and asked for action against Fr. Murphy. Correspondence to the CDF on the issue was answered by the Secretary of the CDF at the time, now the Vatican’s Secretary of State, not by Cardinal Ratzinger himself. The media have portrayed this as “Cardinal Ratzinger’s secretary,” which isn’t what Secretary means in this case.
6. Apparently, Murphy himself wrote an appeal to the Vatican, asking for mercy given his age. Supposedly, at some point, Bishop Bertone, the CDF Secretary, wrote a letter to Weakland suggesting that canonical proceedings should be suspended due to Murphy’s advanced age and failing health as well as the lack of evidence after so many years.
7. We now have a statement by Cardinal Schoenborn that in at least one prominent case, Cardinal Ratzinger’s desire to reduce an accused bishop to the lay state was overriden by John Paul II, aka “the Great,” aka “Garrulous Carolus the Koran kisser,” a pope who had some great teachings and fantastic PR skills but very lousy management skills and a very liberal attitude about dealing with sinners.
Now, the Canonical Judge in the trial, Fr. Thomas Brundage, JCL, has written an article for the Diocese of Anchorage (also noteworthy to Fr. Brundage’s credit is that he notes he’s been in Alaska as early as 2001–obviously sought out a transfer from service under Weakland), trying to clear up some of the facts in this case. This is extremely noteworthy and groundbreaking. After all, one of the inherent problems in these issues, from an American “need to know” standpoint, is the extreme secrecy of canonical trials. *Everyone* involved in a canonical trial is sworn to secrecy.
But because this case is so important, and already so well-publicized, Fr. Brundage–with permission of his current bishop–has violated his oaths of secrecy as a canonical judge and as a participant in the Murphy trial to set the record straight:
1. He emphasizes his own commitment to fighting the plague of sexual abuse, having seen its horrible effects both as a canon lawyer and as a prison minister.
2. He emphasizes that perhaps no one has worked harder in the Church to solve this problem than Cardinal Ratzinger–how the process drastically changed for the better when authority over these cases was transferred from the Roman Rota to the CDF in 2001. Indeed, did Pope John Paul give the power to Ratzinger *because* he realized Ratzinger was right all those years?
3. Fr. Brundage says he never wrote to the CDF about the Murphy case, but the times quotes a handwritten letter that he supposedly wrote. He says that he would not have written to the CDF since the CDF had no authority, and the handwriting in the letter is not his own. He notes that he has been “quoted” or referred to in this case but never once contacted by a journalist. He notes a journalist’s responsibility to double-check all sources (particularly text sources), and that the reporter ought to have contacted him to verify the letter.
4. The letter from Archbishop Weakland Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone dated August 19, 1998–two days before Murphy died–stated that Weakland had instructed that canonical proceedings against Murphy cease.
5. Fr. Brundage emphasizes that he heard the pleas of the victims–and the Catholic Deaf community in general–and he agreed that Fr. Murphy should be laicized, but that was a Vatican matter, and had to take place after the local trial was completed. He was never told to stop proceedings by Archbishop Weakland. If he had been so ordered, he says, he would have filed an appeal with the Vatican to take the case to the Vatican Supreme Court.
Of course, to the secularists who are out for blood, none of these facts will mean anything; just as the facts, discrepancies and contradictions that were obvious from the NYT article itself didn’t mean anything. These people care nothing about the victims–remember these are the people who want “sex ed” in kindergarten–they just want an easy way to attack Pope Benedict XVI.