Judicial vicar of Milwaukee gives his account, corrects NYT

This is interesting.

This comes from the Catholic Anchor from Anchorage, Alaska.

My emphases and comments.

Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy

Then-presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gives first-person account of church trial

By Fr. THOMAS BRUNDAGE, JLC

For CatholicAnchor.org

To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.

To put some parameters on the following remarks, I am writing this article with the express knowledge and consent of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, the Archbishop of Anchorage, where I currently serve. Archbishop Schwietz is also the publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, [READ CAREFULLY] since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.

As I have found that the reporting on this issue has been inaccurate and poor in terms of the facts, I am also writing out of a sense of duty to the truth.

 [NOTA BENE] The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.

My intent in the following paragraphs is to accomplish the following:

To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;

To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;

To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;

To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.

[...]

… As a college freshman at the Marquette University School of Journalism, we were told to check, recheck, and triple check our quotes if necessary. I was never contacted by anyone on this document, written by an unknown source to me. Discerning truth takes time and it is apparent that the New York Times, the Associated Press and others did not take the time to get the facts correct.

[...]

Father Thomas T. Brundage, JCL

 

The piece is long, but it should be read by those who want the details.

Fr. Brundage has done a good days work in the service of the truth.

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44 Responses to Judicial vicar of Milwaukee gives his account, corrects NYT

  1. Brian Day says:

    From the article:
    The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them.

    An immediate retraction by the NYT and others is called for. If no retraction is forthcoming, perhaps a libel lawsuit would be in order. Fr Brundage has a right to his good name.

    I am also encouraged that there is significant blowback against the NYT by such people as John Allen, George Weigel, Fr Brundage, and others. Perhaps this will end up as another coffin nail in the MSM.

  2. isabella says:

    I promised to try to stop commenting on blogs, but I live here and have met Father Brundage. I don’t know him well, but he was kind enough to learn the EF while fulfilling all his other duties for the diocese.

    Also, when I asked for an appointment to talk to him about when/whether we would ever have the TLM regularly (we do now), he was gracious enough to grant me a short appointment and tell me what was going on.

    I hadn’t read that yet, but will gladly take his word over that of the NYT any day of the week, and will say a Rosary for him. God bless him.

  3. laurazim says:

    Father, thank you for posting this. Surely I would not have seen it elsewhere, for Pete’s sake, since the media has absolutely no interest in publishing and reporting anything but pure sensationalism. I will also pray my Rosary for Fr. Brundage. +JMJ+

  4. al007italia says:

    Bravo to Fr. Brundage dor speaking out. Do I expect the people at the NY Times to acknowledge what he said let alone ratract & apoligize? Maybe at the Last Judgement, but I would be surprized to see anything sooner.

  5. r.j.sciurus says:

    This is exactly the kind of guest Bill O’Reilly is looking for…

  6. Mary T says:

    I recommend that everyone send this story to the Public Editor at the Times (public@nytimes.com). Everyone needs to complain and to demand an apology and a front page retraction. That reporter – relying on a Bishop who paid half a million to his homosexual lover and a lawyer who not only stands to gain monetarily but who has a huge axe to grind, should be fired.

  7. terryprest says:

    One quote from Fr. Brundage `s article is also worth highlighting:

    “Second, with regard to the role of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in this matter, I have no reason to believe that he was involved at all. Placing this matter at his doorstep is a huge leap of logic and information.

    Third, the competency to hear cases of sexual abuse of minors shifted from the Roman Rota to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001. Until that time, most appeal cases went to the Rota and it was our experience that cases could languish for years in this court. When the competency was changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in my observation as well as many of my canonical colleagues, sexual abuse cases were handled expeditiously, fairly, and with due regard to the rights of all the parties involved. I have no doubt that this was the work of then Cardinal Ratzinger.”

  8. Bornacatholic says:

    This despicable attack on the Vicar of Christ has many dimensions to it, not the least of which is when Corporate Guilt remains unexpiated, then it repeatedly manifests itself in false accusations against others of what the accuser is guilty of.

    Walter Duranty, writing in the NY Times, successfully covered-up for his Communist heroes as they murdered millions of Christians in The Soviet Union.

    The NY Times is trying to sow hatred for The Catholic Church. May it reap, one hundred fold, what it deserves.

  9. chcrix says:

    For those who are interested:

    hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/wis_church_allegations.pdf

    will allow you to download a pdf that has the documents under discussion. I have been reading through them.

    I do not have the background to understand all of the correspondence. In general things look rather above board to me – save for Fr. Brundage’s disavowal that he wrote the handwritten notes attributed to him. The implication of his article is that someone else must have written them. But my reading of his article is that it is not impossible that he did in fact say things similar to what appear in the notes. His issue is not being contacted for confirmation.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgable can comment on the apparent authenticity of the documents presentated. I will say that the emails using the compuserve id look legitimate for the era (I was a CIS user at the time). Not that they couldn’t be doctored I suppose.

  10. Grabski says:

    Chcrix it is not impossible that he did in fact say things similar to what appear in the notes
    ….

    Fake, but accurate?

  11. chcrix says:

    Fr. Brundage in his article:

    “The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them.”

    So I read this as meaning that Fr. Brundage is acknowledging that he might have made statements like these, but that these particular notes are not his and not in his hand.

  12. jray says:

    There is a rather nasty article written by Cal Thomas at Townhall.com that needs answering.

  13. btdn says:

    chrcrix:No, he is saying that the word choice, order etc. (basically grammar) are what he would have used.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.

    I understand Fr. Brundage to say here that the Catholic Church is the safest for children that it.

    Indeed, if–as I have read–last year there were only six such “credible accusations” against U.S. Catholic priests, then the Catholic Church with over 75 million members may well be the safest organization of such size anywhere on earth in the history of the world.

    And I suspect that much of the credit for this is due precisely to the safeguards that Cardinal Ratzinger insisted be put in place.

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    Meant to say: I understand Fr. Brundage to say here that the Catholic Church is the safest for children that it has ever been.

  16. TNCath says:

    Perhaps the Catholic hierarchy of the United States, along with the priests, need to take out a full page ad in “Hell’s Bible” to support and defend Pope Benedict and respond to the slander and libel that has been taking place.

  17. stephenocist says:

    Father,

    As the attacks continue upon the Holy Father, these seem to be particularly appropriate days for people to pray the six psalms for the second nocturn of Vigils for this morning. I have the texts and an introduction here:

    http://subtuum.blogspot.com/2010/03/cursing-and-lies-that-they-utter-six.html

  18. Nathan says:

    Kudos to Fr. Brundage for stepping up with actual facts. Like the Munich allegations, this will blow over as more people realize that there is no “there” there.

    Nonetheless, something has to be done about Weakland. In my experience with reporters, while they may have biases, agendas, and sloppy work, they do not write something like this without being given the story by someone who stands to gain from its publication. If the facts are anything like they have been represented, then Weakland (I’m sorry, I know he still posesses the marks of the fullness of Holy Orders, but I have a very difficult time referring to him by his title) could gain two things by pushing this story: 1) he gains standing among fellow sodomites who are attacking the Holy Father, and 2) he stands to gain materially from increased book sales and further writing opportunities.

    It’s one thing when a layman lawyer pushes an agenda against the Holy Father, it’s entirely different when an archbishop does.

    In Christ,

  19. Scott W. says:

    The quote of choice in my mind is:

    “Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary.”

    This whole dust-up was based around the idea that Fr. Murphy gave everyone a sob story about his health and could you pretty please forgo the trial and Church officials said ok. Faugh. ad fontes New York Times. You should try it some time.

  20. chcrix says:

    btdn: I accept the plausability of your interpretation, but I think mine is also plausable. Fr. B is being very very careful, tiptoeing around what he feels he can say about a procedure in which he (I assume) is bound to confidentiality. This makes it hard to parse his meaning in places. That is not a criticism of him, just a statement that he is trying to fulfil multiple responsibilities that may be in conflict to a certain degree.

    Nathan: I too am seriously wondering about the source of these documents, and I confess I am looking for powder smudges from the smoking gun on the hands of the former Archbishop of Milwaukee. But I haven’t found them…yet.

    She is probably not terribly popular among many who frequent this blog, but the late novelist Ayn Rand had a lovely knack of giving her really despicable villans correspondingly suggestive names. “Ellsworth Monckton Toohey” “Wesley Mouch”

    I have often thought that “Rembert Weakland” sounds like her attempt at naming a truly corrupt man of the cloth.

  21. Bornacatholic says:

    In general things look rather above board to me – save for Fr. Brundage’s disavowal that he wrote the handwritten notes attributed to him.

    Dear chcrix. I am sure that you, totally unfamiliar with the situation, never before having seen his hand-writing, reading some documents dumped online, is more likely to judge the facts of matter than is the Priest who was intimately involved in the entire process.

    What part of The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting do you not understand?

  22. William says:

    I copied this letter and sent it to my diocesan newspaper and requested its immediate publication. Not a bad idea if everyone here did similarly.

  23. chcrix says:

    Bornacatholic:

    I was endorsing Fr. Brundage’s disavowal.

    My intended meaning was that the PDF, which is a package of documents relating to the case appears to be genuine – save for the handwritten sheet which was not written by Fr. Brundage.

    My apoligies for my shortcoming in not making my meaning clearer.

  24. Justin from Ohio says:

    I also encourage everyone to write respectful, intelligent emails to the NY Times public editor/ombudsman at:

    public@nytimes.com

    I’m sure his office is receiving plenty of emotional, angry emails. I think it’s a good thing to balance those (although the anger may be justified) with well thought-out messages outlining the problems/errors/bias in the articles against the Pope.

    I’m sure we’ll be seeing a column from the Public Editor in the near future given the controversy over this, and hopefully he’ll admit it appears the NY Times may have messed this up (I think intentionally….but he’ll probably treat the paper and the reporter with kid-gloves…if he even admits a screw-up at all).

  25. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to Fr. Brundage!

    Boo and HISSSS to the NYSlimes!

    I hope the Slimes gets bombarded with emails and letters demanding a apology!

  26. Traductora says:

    Thank you bit of truth, particularly after the scurrilous attack by Cal Thomas in his column this morning. What still eludes me, however, is why Rembert Weakland is not getting any of the blame for this. He was Archibishop of Milwaukee during all this time; even the Wikipedia article on him notes that he threatened Catholic school teachers who complained about a case by telling them all their letters “would be carefully scrutinized for libel” and also referred to other complainants as “squealing” on these priests. If there was any cover up, it was by Weakland.

    But since he just published a book telling the world about his tormented life as a gay man in the homophobic Catholic Church, I guess he’s the darling of the New York Times and can hide whatever he wants.

  27. jmgarciajr says:

    I paraphrase Mark Twain: “A lie travels halfway around the world in the time it takes the truth to put on its shoes.”

  28. bruno says:

    “To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.”

    I would be willing to bet on “safer than most New York Times journalists’ offices.

  29. bruno says:

    “I recommend that everyone send this story to the Public Editor at the Times (public@nytimes.com). Everyone needs to complain and to demand an apology and a front page retraction. That reporter – relying on a Bishop who paid half a million to his homosexual lover and a lawyer who not only stands to gain monetarily but who has a huge axe to grind, should be fired.
    Comment by Mary T — 30 March 2010 @ 5:35 am ”

    DONE!

  30. graytown says:

    Fr. Z,

    I live in Alaska.
    Fr. Brundage is a very selfless person.
    He took time out of his busy schedule to go to Chicago and learn the
    Traditional Mass which he makes available in Palmer, AK.

    Mark

  31. Jason Keener says:

    I knew Fr. Brundage when he was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was a holy confessor and selfless priest who truly went out of his way to help others, including me. May God bless him!

  32. GregH says:

    I wonder how he ended up in the Diocese of Anchorage? Was he exiled?

  33. maynardus says:

    It may not be the “smoking gun”, but I found the phrasing of this part quite interesting, especially in light of the fact that Fr. Brundage is obviously writing very carefully here and choosing his words with care:

    Archbishop Weakland stated that he had instructed me to abate the proceedings against Father Murphy. Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary.

    IOW, he seems to be implying that: a.) Abp. Weakloins is fibbing, and; b.) the said Archbishop and his Judicial Vicar did not see eye-to-eye on these matters

    Certainly, given that Abp. Weakloins has lived a lie for many years, I’d be disinclined to trust him any further than I could throw his wreckovated cathedral. OTOH I’d bet that Fr. Brundage could probably tell some pretty appalling stories about his time in Milwaukee if he were free to do so.

  34. graytown says:

    Was Fr. Brundage exiled from Milwaukee ?
    Good question.
    This very well could be a case of the ” man who knew too much “.
    Father needs to make himself available nationally to tell this truth.
    But will they even listen ?

    Mark

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    Well, next time you see a NYT, you know it’s not worth the paper it’s written on, unless you like FICTION.

  36. Grabski says:

    Tradutor What still eludes me, however, is why Rembert Weakland is not getting any of the blame for this. He was Archibishop of Milwaukee during all this time

    Sigh, we all know why: Rembert is the homosexual activist of the mythical ‘spirit of VII’ movement.

  37. Frank H says:

    Some background on Fr. Brundage. He was clearly NOT “exiled” to Alaska…

    This from 2006 –

    http://www.catholicanchor.org/archive06/archive07-28-06.html

    PALMER — Father Tom Brundage can be, as he says, “persistent.”
    Ever since the new millennium, he’s dreamed of heading north from his Midwestern hometown to pastor an Alaska parish. The 43-year-old priest spent nearly his whole life in Milwaukee, but ever since a brief trip to Alaska in 1999, he’s felt a northern calling.
    While making several work-related trips to Alaska over the past six years, Father Brundage’s desire to move to Alaska grew, and he regularly pleaded with his superiors in the Milwaukee Archdiocese to let him work in Alaska. Shortly before Easter this year, he got the nod. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan finally agreed to release him to serve the Anchorage Archdiocese for at least two years, perhaps three.

  38. Dr. Eric says:

    Fox News contributor and radio show host Laura Ingraham will have Fr. Brundage on her show today. As a convert I hope she can get the truth out about this calumny against The Holy Father.

  39. Dr. Eric says:

    I meant that as Miss Ingraham is a convert to the Catholic Church…

  40. Nathan says:

    I recently read the documents that the NYT has posted as sources for their article. The article not only gets Fr. Brundridge wrong (the handwritten note they ascribe to Fr Brundridge appears to be notes taken by the Bishop of Superior), but misses out on the key fact that the CDF authorized a trial against Fr Murphy and upheld that ruling throughout.

    A big problem comes in the Abp. Weakland quote: “In an interview, Archbishop Weakland said that he recalled a final meeting at the Vatican in May 1998 in which he failed to persuade Cardinal Bertone and other doctrinal officials to grant a canonical trial to defrock Father Murphy.” Assuming that the reporter got this right (which is problematic at best), Weakland misrepresents what happened–Bertone and CDF authorized a canonical trial, gave Weakland advice to fully implement the 1983 Canon Law statues, and the Bishop of Superior (who had jurisdiction) started the process to begin the trial.

    The only grounds the NYT might have for criticism of the CDF was that it moved slowly, although it took Weakland three years to even ask the CDF for a ruling.

    In Christ,

  41. Bornacatholic says:

    Dear chcrix. Thanks for the clarification and please accept my apologies for going ballistic. I am quite on edge these days what with all of the execrable attacks on our Holy Father.

    I pray that one result of all of these attacks is the Church will reawaken to the fact the world hates out guts and seeks to destroy us. It does no good for us to think we can befriend the world or to placate it my becoming ever more lax in our standards.

    It is time to close the windows, refortify the fort, and while still sending our missionaries, be careful about letting the enemies in the gate.

    I also pray the Church awakens to the fact that there must be zero homosexual applicants accepted into seminaries.

    Look at the damage they have wrought.

    In the 60s, we “read the signs of the times” and decided to open ourselves to the world.

    How’s that worked out for us?

  42. mpm says:

    Nathan,

    Fr. Brundage, in his article, appears to deny what Archbishop Weakland was reported to have said:

    Additionally, in the documentation in a letter from Archbishop Weakland to then-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone on August 19, 1998, Archbishop Weakland stated that he had instructed me to abate the proceedings against Father Murphy. Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary. – Fr. Brundage’s article

    Fr. Murphy died while the trial was still “open”.

  43. Dr. Eric says:

    Fr. Brundage is on Miss Ingraham’s show right now.

  44. graytown says:

    Frank – thank you for finding that quote.

    And thank you to Fr. Brundage for putting himself into the media spotlight.
    Now, he needs an even bigger audience – O’Reilly.

    Mark