Fr. Murphy’s Judge speaks out: The NYT is 100% lying

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.

12 responses to “Fr. Murphy’s Judge speaks out: The NYT is 100% lying

  1. One thing that gets me in almost all of these clergy-abuse cases, is the Statute of Limitations. 20 years is a long time, and according to most states, the victim turning 20 (2 years past age of majority) is the limitation on sexual abuse.

    But nobody ever seems to ask why these cases have to be tried in civil lawsuit instead of criminal court.

  2. right, the statute of limitations is the big issue, and the problem of course is that most victims aren’t confident enough to come forward till adulthood–or, more importantly, no one listens to them. Indeed, Father notes in his piece that the spouses of grown victims are a major voice in the advocacy, because they testify to the long-term effects of abuse.

  3. Something a wife of a Protestant cousin told me on Facebook about the concept of forgiving an offender of any type, that brought me peace in this case:

    “Theresa Seeber People always get pissed off when they see the grace of God being given freely. That’s why we say “Outlaw” regarding grace. Even good, noble and kind lovers of Christ can be offended at the grace they see given to the broken. These are tough matters to be sure. Grace”

    • Grace is one thing; the acceptance of grace is another.

      • And acceptance of grace by third parties, is still another….especially those who imagine themselves in the shoes of the victims of the sin.

      • But the difference here is a Protestant versus Catholic understanding of forgiveness. A Catholic realizes that, while you’re forgiven, you still have the capacity to sin, and you still need to do something to break that bad habit. And the practice of penance post-Vatican II, which really has nothing *directly* to do with Vatican II but only its “spirit” has been to adopt a very Protestant “go home; you’re forgiven” attitude versus trying to make yourself better.

      • Fr Murphy himself addressed that in his letter to the CDF in 1998- and pointed out that he had done something to break his habit, and in fact had NO accusations against him since 1974.

        I believe that giving Fr. Murphy mercy, at the tail end of his life, fits very well with *both* the Protestant and the Catholic understandings of forgiveness; I have no doubt this pedophile was truly repentant in the Catholic sense of the word (and had already been proving that for some 24 years at the time of his death).

        I also think that is something that has been missing from *every single one* of the cases in this scandal- that when it comes to sexual sin, the spirit is weak but the flesh is willing will eventually turn into both the spirit and the flesh are weak- too weak for any action at all. No man who commits that sin, stays stuck in that sin for his entire life; the day will come when things change.

  4. And, my own crazy conspiracy theory (that I know is crazy- if for no other reason it links liberals, Masons, and Hippies into a vast worldwide 45-year conspiracy against the Roman Catholic Church and the Vicar of Christ):

  5. Ted, I’m confused about what the “conspiracy theory” in your blog post *is*, other than the bit about John XXIII being a Freemason, which he wasn’t, everything else seems just about right.

    Liberals demanded a more “compassionate” Church. As the Holy Father himself said in the letter to Ireland, the Church has been rather lax in enforcing canonical penalties since Vatican II.

    Yes, sex abuse happened *before* Vatican II, but exploded afterwards-John Geoghan himself said he started experimenting with pedophilia because of the sexual revolution.

    The Pope *is* a victim of the Media.

    So I’m really confused about what you’re getting at in your post.

    • There’s also the unproven link between the three groups in the “conspiracy”: Masons, Hippies, and the Media.

      But my real point, is that there are several ways to read this- several points of view. And you can just as easily say that the Pope should resign, as make 5/6ths of the world into a bunch of anti-Catholic bigots. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

      Well, that and if the Grace and Mercy of God is to be given to all, who better to receive it than a *repentant* old man who just wants to die in peace and not dig up the past? As Theresa reminded me- grace isn’t about healing the already healed, but the broken.

  6. Well, I believe that *some* people can truly overcome their sins, and that may have been the case with Fr. Murphy, though the judge says he was just a sociopath.
    And in the original version of the story, I didn’t see what the big deal was precisely because it makes sense if the CDF said, “This guy’s been punished; he’s dying. Leave him be.”

    The only issue was giving him the “honor” of burial as a priest.

    So even if the CDF *said* that, it doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on Cdl. Ratzinger, and there’s still no evidence he personally ever reviewed the case.

    However, the judge is arguing it never happened, that he never received instruction to end the case.

    • The documents used in the NYT article are available online.

      I think the real question is between the letter on page 57-58 (where the CDF does in fact *ask*, but not *require* that the Judge end the case, only that he consider Canon 1341 as a reason for Mercy), and the letter on page 81 (where the Judge closes the case only *AFTER* Fr. Murphy’s death).

      I fail to see Cdl. Ratzinger’s involvement in *any* of the written documentation on that site, and especially NOT the letter on pages 57-58.

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