Friday, March 26, 2010

Times vs. Vatican... Round Two

Another day... another whopper in the pages of the New York Times -- this time building on the case of Peter Hullermann, the German priest accused (and later convicted) of abuse who was transferred into the archdiocese of Munich for treatment during then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's tenure as archbishop (1977-82), then subsequently permitted to engage in ministry there with no restrictions.

After a 1986 conviction on abuse charges and a course of treatment, Hullermann -- originally incardinated in the diocese of Essen -- again served in unrestricted ministry in the Munich church until 2008.

Here, the Grey Lady's lede...
The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest [for treatment], but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.

What part he played in the decision making, and how much interest he showed in the case of the troubled priest, who had molested multiple boys in his previous job, remains unclear. But the personnel chief who handled the matter from the beginning, the Rev. Friedrich Fahr, “always remained personally, exceptionally connected” to Cardinal Ratzinger, the church said.
...and, again, the story received a near-immediate response from the Holy See, again published in this morning's Bollettino of the Vatican Press Office:
Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., questioned by journalists concerning a new New York Times article, which appeared on 26 March and concerns the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, referred them to this morning's public denial in a communique published by the archdiocese of Munich, which reads:

"The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Father H."

Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish.

It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.

The then vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity.