ITALY - "Step aside tomorrow" victims urge Cardinal Sodano
Dozens of deaf men were abused as kids by a priest. As adults, they were betrayed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano and other Catholic officials who ignored their pleas for help. We grieve for these once-helpless children and struggling adults as Sodano prepares to lead a special liturgy tomorrow as the conclave begins.
Sodano is a dramatic symbol of almost everything that is wrong with the Catholic hierarchy, especially when it comes to addressing and stopping the sexual assault of children by clergy and the cover up these crimes. We hope he'll have the decency to let someone else lead the conclave's opening mass tomorrow. If he doesn't, we hope his colleagues will persuade him to step down.
Sodano has the distinction of occupying during the past 23 years the two senior most positions of power after the Pope, at one time simultaneously, of Vatican Secretary of State and Dean of the College of Cardinals, where he either enabled or ignored clergy child sex crime worldwide.
It was Sodano, according to knowledgeable sources, who blocked the investigation of the notorious Austrian pedophile Cardinal Hermann Groer.
It was Sodano who fiercely and publically defended another of the church’s most high profile sex offenders, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Just as with Groer, Sodano deliberately obstructed the investigation into Marcial in 1998, and then publically defended Marcial right up until 2005, even though the evidence of Marcial’s guilt, in spite of Sodano’s efforts to prevent justice, was absolutely incontrovertible.
But perhaps the saddest of the known actions committed by Sodano concerns yet another infamous child sex predator, Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who operated a boarding school for deaf children in Wisconsin. By 1995, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and other Vatican officials knew Murphy had
sexually assaulted at least 200 deaf children, according to Murphy’s own archbishop. That same year, one of Murphy’s victims wrote a heart wrenching letter to Sodano, detailing Murphy’s assaults against him and other classmates. It’s bad enough that Sodano ignored the pleas of deaf survivors of Murphy while he was well aware that Murphy was a serial child molester of disabled children.
But when the Murphy case was finally receiving worldwide attention, Sodano, who had known about Murphy’s guilt for years and the Vatican’s knowledge of it, used the Easter Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square to call the abuse crisis, the Murphy case and the awful plight of his victims “petty gossip.”
For his fellow Cardinals to allow Sadono to occupy the highest and most visible position of honor during their selection of a new leader signals that they have little if any intention to usher in a new and desperately needed era of institutional responsibility, accountability and transparency. And while this group of Cardinals seems hardly the management team to put in charge of protecting children worldwide, surely there must be a more fitting individual than Sodano.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.