March 25th, 2010
07:48 AM ET

Vatican says it was unaware of alleged American priest abuse

The Vatican said it was unaware of an American priest believed to have molested up to 200 boys until 20 years after civil authorities investigated - then dropped - the case.

Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi issued the statement Wednesday in response to a New York Times story alleging that top Vatican officials, including the future Pope Benedict XVI, failed to discipline or defrock the now-deceased Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy of Wisconsin, despite warnings from several American bishops.

"During the mid-1970s, some of Father Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time," Lombardi said. "However, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped."

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the office led  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become pope, "was not informed of  the matter until some 20 years later," Lombardi said.

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Julie

    This is a lie, and you can read about how the Vatican covered it up in the NYT.

    March 25, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. rick

    has the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican been living in a cave for last thousand years. When you change the laws for nature and make a biological man turn to celibacy it made monsters!! Get back to the original Roman Church and let priets marry, if you don't this you have lost the people of the faith!

    March 25, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rick DeLano

    The shockingly brazen orchestrated media attack on Pope Benedict has now reached, one hopes, the blowback stage. The whole story is a grotesque smear. The facts boil down to this: the priest was 74 years old and dying when the letter was sent to then-Cardinal Ratzinger, begging that he be allowed to die without *Church* sanctions (not civil or criminal sanctions) being further pursued.

    So this whole, sickening, massive NYT "scoop" boils down to Cardinal Ratzinger allowing a dying man never charged in court to be granted time to die without being defrocked.

    The Pope is now reaping what has been sown since John Paul II acquiesced in the terrible dereliction regarding homosexual infiltration of the priesthood and, it now appears, the episcopacy, after the Second Vatican Council.

    Persecution is now in the air...........always a good sign as far as the Catholic Faith is concerned.

    St. Athanasius, pray for us!

    March 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary Ann

    I'm really tired of the media trying to pin 50-yr. old cases on the pope and his aides.

    What about all the abuse going on now in the public schools?

    Get a life, anti-Catholic bigots!

    March 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary Ann

    Actually, Julie, this is the truth and explains about how the NYT is printing OLD news just to smear the Pope.

    Sorry you fell for it.

    March 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tim

    The big scandal in this story belongs to the Milwaukee police. Why didn't they stop him? What? No follow up on that by CNN and the NYT? Shocking!
    The police aren't the target of the attack this time, though they usually are.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Anne

    I am a Catholic, but have no faith in the men of the church. Lose Ireland and the US, and they might as well pack it in. Eight-page letters will not suffice. Major ACTION is required. For the Vatican and bishops to be believed again, Benedict (aka Cardinal Ratzinger) must step down; turn over any suspected priests to authorities; allow women to become priests; and allow priests to marry.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Madison Catholic

    Eveyone might consider the arguments of professor Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State (who is not a Catholic) on priestly pedophilia.

    Professor Jenkins concludes in his analysis that all groups have pedophile scandals, and that the Catholics (while the largest religious group) are at the bottom of the list statistically among offenders. ("Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis")

    So many commentors in this forum are SO misinformed - for example, statistically, celibacy is NOT linked to child abuse - actually, most child abusers are married men. The idea that a person cannot control their sexual impulses is about as naive as the suggestion that a person cannot control their impulse to rob a bank or to shoplift. Very few people fall into these disturbed categories.

    When will people stop trying to smear the Catholic Church and research the facts and stick to them?

    March 26, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mary Ann

    I am a Catholic and have no faith in man either, but faith in God. Anne, you've pretty much Protestantized yourself.

    Great post, Madson Catholic.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. concerned non-catholic, ny

    I think American Catholics must re-org the RC church in the US for the sake of the children:

    - eliminate Papal Infallibility from the spiritual teachings
    - suspend all ties to the Vatican
    - recommend that the Vatican be disbanded, the site be turned into a museum
    - re-allign church power down to the parishoners & parish church level
    - insist that U.S. RC churches work closely with their local PD/law enforcement to stamp out this behaviour

    I'm not a Catholic. However, I support Catholic charities and Catholic education institutions. There are numerous positives regarding the rank&file of the Church (in spirit, culture & education). It needs to be saved in a drastic manner.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. schuler

    What they really mean is that a baby was baptised a week ago and they asked the baby if she/he knew about the sexual abuse and all they got was a grunt and sqwish .That in its self tells you it didn't know,so don't rely on anyone else to let you know.WOW !What is that familiar odor?

    March 29, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. odyssey woman

    As a student nurse at a Catholic hospital in southern Missouri during the late 60's, the archbishop for the diocese of Springfield and Cape Gireadeau was a white-haired charmer, Bernard Law, to whom even the protestant girls were forced to hear in lecture. He was charming, witty, and somehow made the nuns almost faint with joy. When he was appointed archbishop of Boston, many prayed he would be the first American Pope. Instead he became so entangled in the cover-ups of the American disaster for the church that he was whisked away to the Vatican. Did they fear an actual arrest of an archbishop of such renoun? Since the Catholic church in many various fashions holds a large percentage of the worlds wealth including great artworks taken from Jewish homes during the Holocost, I doubt the FBI, CIA, or Law and Order will touch any of them. Catholic believers themselves have to rise up to redeem their faith or be in the same league as Jerry Falwell going down a waterslide in a cheap suit.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |