Additional reading: The story is false. It is unsupported by its own documentation. Indeed, it gives every indication of being part of a coordinated campaign against Pope Benedict, rather than responsible journalism.
And: But it was the New York Times’ front page of March 25 that demonstrated just how low those determined to bring the Church down were prepared to go.
To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.Here is the man who presided over the rial of Fr. Murphy, the Wisconsin priest whose case was reported by the New York Times as "implicating" Pope Benedict XVI in a sex abuse scandal.
In 1996, I was introduced to the story of Father Murphy, formerly the principal of St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. It had been common knowledge for decades that during Father Murphy’s tenure at the school (1950-1974) there had been a scandal at St. John’s involving him and some deaf children. The details, however, were sketchy at best.
Courageous advocacy on behalf of the victims (and often their wives), led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to revisit the matter in 1996.
It is important to note that we are talking about an investigation that only opened some twenty-two years after the fact. The media makes it sound as if it were all contemporaneous.
We proceeded to start a trial against Father Murphy. I was the presiding judge in this matter and informed Father Murphy that criminal charges were going to be levied against him with regard to child sexual abuse and solicitation in the confessional.
In my interactions with Father Murphy, I got the impression I was dealing with a man who simply did not get it. He was defensive and threatening.
Between 1996 and August, 1998, I interviewed, with the help of a qualified interpreter, about a dozen victims of Father Murphy. These were gut-wrenching interviews.
In the summer of 1998, I ordered Father Murphy to be present at a deposition at the chancery in Milwaukee. I received, soon after, a letter from his doctor that he was in frail health and could travel not more than 20 miles (Boulder Junction to Milwaukee
ould be about 276 miles). A week later, Father Murphy died of natural causes in a location about 100 miles from his home.
So the investigation opens at to allegations of acts committed two decades ago and Fr. Murphy dies soon after the trail on him gets hotter, so to speak. Please note that "trial" in this case is not a criminal trial by civil authorities by a canonical trial in the church. The civil authorities, despite knowing of the allegations, did nothing.
With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me.
The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them.
Fr. Brundage provides more evidence of the fallacy of reporting by the Times and the Associated Press. I encourage you to read his article in full.