Ratzinger refused to defrock priest at abuser’s own request

Via the Telegraph:

The case involved an American priest, the late Rev Alvin Campbell, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1985 for abusing seven boys.

After he was jailed Bishop Daniel Ryan of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois, wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, asking for Campbell to be defrocked immediately, instead of going through a church trial which would be harrowing for victims. But Cardinal Ratzinger turned down the bishop’s plea because the abuser himself refused to agree to it.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press from court records, the cardinal wrote on July 3, 1989: “The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself.” The decision was in keeping with church law at the time and provides the latest evidence of how the system frustrated US bishops struggling to root out abuse. Several decades old cases have recently emerged raising questions about decisions taken by Cardinal Ratzinger’s office in abuse cases. The Vatican has denounced what it calls a campaign to smear the pope and his aides.

Campbell had been an Army chaplain but left after abusing at least one boy. He then became a pastor in Illinois and began plying boys with video games, bicycles, watches and other gifts before abusing them. He was released after serving half his jail sentence in 1992, and was eventually convinced by priests in his diocese to accept defrocking without a church trial.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said: “Ratzinger chose to put concerns about dangerous paedophiles and the church’s reputation above concerns about children’s safety.”

In at least a half dozen prior cases ( Peter Hullerman, Marcel Maciel, Lawrence Murphy, Michael Teta, Robert C. Trupia, Stephen Kiesle, and Hans Groër,) there was room for the strained interpretation that Ratzinger merely mishandled abuse cases by the standards of today, or acted slowly, or used his full but meager power to police abuse as an internal matter. In any given individual case, one could argue he did have the victims in mind. But the cases kept piling up, and soon a pattern of inaction emerged, and this interpretation became strained. He could be called either
 But this case, reviewed in-of-itself and independent of Ratzinger’s prior record, is unambiguous. He refused to discipline an abuser because the abuser refused to accept his punishment. The rapist was left free to abuse for at least five more years under the aegis of Church protection. And now, Ratzinger is claiming the bare recitation of these facts  is tantamount to smearing, “petty gossip.” He is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging either the gravity of the crimes or his responsibility in them.
The man is either criminally incompetent, or tremendously callous in his failure to understand the traumas of child abuse, or egomaniacal in his conviction only Joseph Ratzinger was capable of prosecuting cases that were clearly matters for civil law. That is the trilemma we are faced with.
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3 Responses

  1. I fail to see how anyone can still listen to that guy even after all of this had been told.

    Either people are truly stubborn with their faith or they are all as sheepish as I have assumed them to be.

  2. True true.

    It just boogles my mind how people see that and still go to those who are supposed to guide them but are actually abusing their children.

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