The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, March 12, 2010
Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry; victims respond
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790)
Just a few short years ago discussing clergy sex crimes and cover-ups, Pope Benedict told the Irish bishops “it is important to establish the truth of what happened.” The pope is obviously ignoring his own advice. As a high-ranking church official for decades, if Ratzinger knew of one reassigned pedophile priest, the odds are he knows of others, possibly dozens. German secular authorities should do in Munich what Irish secular authorities did in Dublin: launch a thorough secular probe of clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. Other European governments should consider doing the same.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around since 1988 and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
March 12, 2010
Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry
The Pope was drawn directly into the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal for the first time tonight as news emerged of his part in a decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. The priest went on to reoffend and was convicted of child abuse but continues to work as priest in Upper Bavaria.
The priest was sent from Essen to Munich for “therapy” in 1980 when he was accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex. The archdiocese confirmed that the Pope, then a cardinal, had approved a decision to accommodate the priest in a rectory while the therapy took place.
The priest, identified only as “H”, was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing minors after he was moved to pastoral work in nearby Grafing. In 1986 he was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and fined 4,000 marks ($2,800 in today’s money). There have been no formal accusations against him since.
The church has been accused of a cover-up after at least 170 accusations of child abuse by German Catholic priests. The scandal broke in January but the claims, which continue to emerge, span three decades. Critics say that priests were redeployed to other parishes rather than fired when they were found to be abusing children.
The archdiocese of Munich and Freising said there had been no complaints against the priest during the therapy at a Church community in Munich. It said the decision to allow him to continue work in Grafing was taken by Gerhard Gruber, now 81, and then Vicar General of the archdiocese.
The Vatican noted in a statement that Monsignor Gruber had taken “full responsibility” for the priest’s move back into pastoral work but did not comment further.
Monsignor Gruber said the Pope, who was made a cardinal in 1977, had not been not aware of his decision because there were a thousand priests in the diocese at the time and he had left many decisions to lower level officials.
“The cardinal could not deal with everything,” he said. “The repeated employment of H in pastoral duties was a serious mistake... I deeply regret that this decision led to offences against youths. I apologise to all those who were harmed.”
However, he did not indicate whether the convicted paedophile would be allowed to continue working in the Church.
The Pope was Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982, then moved to Rome as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post he held until his election as pontiff five years ago after the death of John Paul II.
“H”, the priest, went on to work in an old people’s home for two years after his conviction then moved to the town of Garching where he became a curate and later a Church administrator. In May 2008 he was removed from his duties in Garching and was not allowed to work with your people, but he still works in the diocese, according to the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which broke the story.
The head of Germany’s Catholic bishops had earlier today apologised to the victims of clerical sex abuse after meeting Pope Benedict, saying the German-born Pope had expressed “great dismay” over the scandals and had encouraged him to take “decisive and courageous steps” to tackle the problem and help the victims.
Monsignor Robert Zollitsch, Archbishop of Freiburg, said the German Church would investigate abuse allegations and take measures to prevent a recurrence. He said the Pope had been “deeply moved” by his report of sex abuse cases in Germany, and had praised the naming of a bishop to act as a clerical sex abuse “watchdog”.
However Archbishop Zollitsch noted that paedophilia was not confined to the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Gerhard Muller, the Bishop of Regensburg, insisted there was “not even a minimal link” between paedophilia and priestly celibacy, which would “not be modified”.
Before the meeting, Pope Benedict defended celibacy for priests as a sign of “full devotion” to God and the Catholic Church.
Speaking to delegates toat a conference on the priesthood, the Pope said celibacy was a “sacred value” for the Latin Church in the West and was also “held in great regard” by the Eastern Catholic church, which permits priests to be married.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests