ST FRANCIS, Milwaukee — A US man claiming he was abused by a predator priest accused of molesting scores of deaf boys said Thursday Pope Benedict XVI knew about the latest sex scandal to rock the church and should be held accountable for it.
“The pope knew about this. He should be held accountable,” Arthur Budzinski said outside the Archdiocese of Milwaukee after a New York Times report said Vatican officials, including the future pope, failed to act on warnings that Father Lawrence Murphy was abusing boys at a school for the deaf here.
Murphy is believed to have molested as many as 200 boys at St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin between 1950 and 1974.
The New York Times published documents Thursday which show that top Vatican officials, including then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — who was elected pope in 2005 — never took action against Murphy, despite many warnings from US bishops.
Budzinski, who is deaf and attended St John’s, said in sign language, which was spoken to reporters by his daughter, that Murphy would come into the boys’ dorm at night, take them into a closet and sexually molest them.
Budzinski, who is now 62, said he told then archbishop of Milwaukee William Cousins and other officials about the abuse in 1974.
The archbishop shouted at him and Budzinski “left the meeting crying,” he said.
According to the documents published in the New York Times, in the 1990s — years after the alleged offenses occurred — then Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland and another Wisconsin bishop wrote “directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope,” about Murphy.
Ratzinger failed to respond to the letter, and a canonical trial authorized by his deputy was halted after Murphy wrote to Ratzinger begging that the proceedings be stopped, the Times said.
“While church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal,” the newspaper said.
Murphy died in 1998, having never been defrocked.
The allegations that the Vatican turned a blind eye to Murphy’s abuse follow months of other child sex scandals coming to light in Brazil, Ireland, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the pope’s native Germany.
Two revelations in Germany concerned the pope and his brother Georg, the first having authorized lodging for a known abuser and the second having headed a boys’ choir whose members had earlier suffered abuse.