The poisons that lurk in the mud

In Robert Graves I, Claudius, the old emperor decides to let Nero be his heir knowing well that Nero will be so bad that people will cry for reform and the Republic to return.  In his cups, the old Claudius rumbles:

"It will be bad, exceedingly bad…worse even than Caligula but they have to have the whole terrible truth about just how bad it can be before they come to their senses.

Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud, hatch out."

Today in the hectoring Hell’s Bible there is an article about a memo to then Card. Archbishop Ratzinger of Munich about the now infamous Fr. H who was a child molester. 

Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Pedophile Priest


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.

What part he played in the decision making, and how much interest he showed in the case of the troubled priest, who had molested multiple boys in his previous job, remains unclear. But the personnel chief who handled the matter from the beginning, the Rev. Friedrich Fahr, “always remained personally, exceptionally connected” to Cardinal Ratzinger, the church said.


Subsequently, there was a meeting of diocesan personnel, with then Card. Archbishop Ratzinger, and on the agenda was the matter of this priest.  Later the Card. Archbishop was sent a copy of a memo.

However, the papal spokesman and head of the Holy See’s Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, today issued a statement:


Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., questioned by journalists concerning a new New York Times article, which appeared on 26 March and concerns the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, referred them to this morning’s public denial in a communique published by the archdiocese of Munich, which reads:

"The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop’s knowledge of the situation of Father H."

Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish.

It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.

The then vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity.

Folks… I’m scratching my head here.

I find the statement of the Holy See Press Office somewhat implausible.

It seems to me that a different approach is needed here other than "that’s old news".   They need to communicate in a clearer way what the truth of the matter is. 

It is possible that Pope Benedict doesn’t remember that whole matter, at least in its details.  His strengths, alas, don’t also lie in administration.   But… But…  I dunno… if I were the archbishop of a diocese, even one that had as many priests as Munich at the time, and some priest from another diocese was sent over to get some kind of psychological treatment, that he was high risk…. if I were the boss, I think would probably remember such a guy and want to know what they did with him, even if I were delegating.

This is all very bad.

Sadly, we are as a Church going to have to have more purgation, and exposure and public penance.  We are going to have to lie here and get kicked around, I’m afraid. 

But if we are going to get kicked and bled we can insist on the truth.

This will be bad, exceedingly bad…worse even than the horror time a few years ago.  But we have to have the whole terrible truth about just how bad it can be before we come to their senses.

Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud, hatch out.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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