German newspaper accuses Bertone, not pope of covering sex abuse
Apr 5, 2010, 17:41 GMT
Hamburg - Die Zeit, a German weekly newspaper, charged Monday that Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, not the current pope, had delayed last-minute attempts to punish a dying US priest with a long history of sexually abusing deaf boys.
Pope Benedict XVI was earlier accused by the New York Times of slowing up efforts to punish Lawrence Murphy, said to have criminally abused as many as 200 deaf children while working at a school in the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 1950 to 1974.
Die Zeit said it had obtained from lawyers representing the deaf men both the correspondence and the minutes of a 1998 meeting chaired by Bertone at the Vatican with US bishops, less than three months before Murphy died.
The correspondence had been formally addressed to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Joseph Ratzinger, now pope. But it had in fact been conducted with Bertone.
Asked to assess the 20 pages of facsimile documents Die Zeit published on its website, senior Zeit journalist Patrick Schwarz said, 'Unlike what has been assumed so far, it wasn't the current pope that evidently covered up the case but Bertone.'
Schwarz told the German Press Agency dpa, 'The confidential CDF minutes show Bertone was in charge.'
The correspondence showed Murphy had been sacked in 1974 after being accused of sex offences and that US bishops only began moves in 1996 to have him tried in a church court for telling boys during the sacrament of penance that he wanted sex.
The US version of the minutes said Bertone, who was CDF secretary at the time, warned the US bishops of the difficulty of conducting the trial 'in strict secrecy' and the difficulty of presenting proof and testimony 'without increasing the scandal.'
The sex abuse scandal has spread this year to Germany, where more than 250 people say they sadistically beaten, groped or made to do sex acts by priests, mainly in the period from the 1950s to the 1980s.