Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The Vatican and the Child Abuse Scandal

The Roman Catholic Church was already dealing with the fallout from the priest abuse crisis in once-deeply religious Ireland when a series of reports in March not only put the spotlight on Pope Benedict's native Germany but on the Pope himself. In particular, the focus was on the apparent mismanagement of the case of a pedophile priest in Munich while the future Pontiff, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had administered that See from 1977-1982. The crisis then focused laser-sharp on the octogenarian pope, what he knew and when did he know it in the case of Father Peter Hullermann. In 1980, Ratzinger personally authorized the transfer of Hullermann, an abusive priest, from another part of Germany to his own archdiocese, ostensibly for therapy. But just days after his arrival, the priest was allowed to serve among the flock. Hullermann was convicted of subsequent sexual assaults in 1986. The Vatican insists that, like other Archbishops, Ratzinger wasn't responsible for the parish assignments of priests, even those with a history of abusing children. In the months since, Benedict has done a number of substantial things to deal with the crisis in the rest of the church, such as meeting with more abuse victims and accepting the resignation of high-ranking clerics associated with the scandal. But he has remained silent on his brief tenure in Munich.