Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Archbishop Weakland on the Pope

Retired Archbishop Rembert G Weakland was the Archbishop who began the proceedings against Lawrence Murphy.

He gave an interview on BBC Radio 4 with Eddie Mair on Thursday, 25 March 2010

You can listen to the interview in full on the above link.

The following important points came out in the interview:

1. Despite the invitation by the questioner to say that he wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger and there was a delay in the responding to him, the Archbishop makes it quite clear that he wrote to the Congregation of the Faith and that it was the Congregation of the Faith which was responsible for the delay in responding to his letter. The delay was not at the instance of Cardinal Ratzinger.

2. He is sure that Cardinal Ratzinger had no personal involvement in the case

3. The matter was dealt with at the Congregation of the Faith by the then Archbishop Bertone and his experts in Canon Law.

4. Weakland says that he only involved the Congregation of the Faith in the proceedings because there were allegations that there was abusive acts not in the confessional but after the penitents had exited the confessional. This is in line with the direction given to bishops in 1962 by the then Holy Office in Crimen Sollicitationis

5. He launched the canonical proceedings against Lawrence Murphy to "defrock" him because there were divisions in the deaf community about Lawrence Murphy: there were the "older members" who did not believe the allegations of abuse and who loved and respected him; there were "younger members" who made the complaints of abuse and were not believed.

He said that it was clear that Lawrence Murphy was ill and he wanted to signify to the deaf community the condemnation of the church. He wanted Murphy to die as a layman and not be buried with a clerical collar on his neck.

6. He says of the meeting (at the Vatican in May shortly before Murphy died ) between himself on the one part and Bertone and his canon law advisors on the other part that they did not seem to understand his concerns to ensure that Murphy was "defrocked". He says that they had tried restrictions on Murphy in the past and these had not worked.

However, very tellingly, he also admits that with hindsight he feels that he should have acted ten years before he did to start the proceedings to laicise Murphy.

However he does not seem to grasp the important point about any form of judicial proceedings. They have to be fair to all parties and that includes the accused. There were very difficult problems about proceedings concerning events which happend nearly thirty five years before.

At that time in Canon Law there was no power for the bishop, the Congregation of the Faith or anyone else at the Vatican to act summarily and without any form of due process.

It was only after the reforms in 2001 which the then Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone campaigned for were these greater powers obtained. And it was under them afterwards that these powers were used zealously to great effect

Note the spin on the interview given by the BBC on the web page:

"For the first time, the Pope himself has been implicated over sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

He is accused of doing nothing when given the chance to defrock a priest, Rev Lawrence Murphy, who molested deaf boys in his care.

The BBC's Eddie Mair has spoken to Rembert G. Weakland, who, in 1996, when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, tried to blow the whistle.

He wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope, and had a meeting with his then deputy, Cardinal Bertone, who is now the Vatican's secretary of state.

He told the PM programme that when he became Archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977, Father Murphy already had many abuse allegations against him."

1. The statement of the accusation of the Pope doing nothing "when given the chance to defrock a priest"

In other versions he is accused of blocking the prosecution

2. Weakland is portrayed as "a whistleblower".

Actually Weakland was not a whistleblower. As the Bishop of the Diocese he was the one and the only one responsible since 1977 for allowing the situation to continue whereby Lawrence Murphy was still allowed to wear "a clerical collar"

3. It is stated that Weakland wrote to the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Weakland in his interview made it clear that (1) he wrote to the Congregation of the Faith rather than Cardinal Ratzinger personally and (2) he was sure that Cardinal Ratzinger had no personal involvement in the case