Very sadly, today, Benedict XVI finished his time as Pope without ever once apologizing for his involvement in covering up the crimes of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who sexually assaulted me and over 200 other students when we were youngsters at St. John’s boarding school for the deaf, operated by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
We pleaded with Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and the head of the powerful head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Faith (CDF) to remove Murphy from the priesthood so he could harm no other children. The Pope had at his desk thousands of pages of direct criminal evidence and testimony that Murphy had destroyed and was likely destroying the lives of so many young deaf children. We wanted the Pope turn Murphy over to criminal authorities, and alert the deaf community and the public about this dangerous man.
The Pope never doubted Murphy’s guilt. Yet, he allowed him to remain in ministry in good standing as a priest, Murphy’s secrets kept safe by the church. As one final gesture, when Murphy died in 1997, we begged Cardinal Ratzinger and officials of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to not allow Murphy to be buried as a priest. That, we felt, was the least the church could do, given all the harm that Murphy had caused us. Instead, the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee one more time ignored our pleas, and Murphy was buried in his full priestly vestments his today. Murphy’s grave stone today still identifies him as a priest.
Fr. Murphy may have stolen our bodies, but it was Pope Benedict who stole our voice.
We still believe that the Pope Benedict can still do what’s right, even in his retirement, and reach out to us deaf survivors and make amends and finally hear our stories and our anguish.