Murphy Case: NYT Never Talked to Judge – UPDATES

In a remarkable piece, we get a sense of confirmation, that the New York Times and the mainstream press are doing their best -during Holy Week, as usual- to (at the very least) foment disgust at the Pontiff and the Catholic Church and/or (at worst) create a climate that “demands” a papal abdication.

But curiously, as the media talk endlessly about an extremely sick case out of Wisconsin, the Times -which “broke” the story- seems to have been very selective in their sources. Fr. Thomas Brundage, JLC appears not to be considered “useful” to the sensationalists in the press:

I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee . . . I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, 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.

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

Emphasis mine. But read on:

My intent in the following paragraphs is 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.

Set the record straight? You mean we’re not getting the whole story from the mainstream press? I’m gobsmacked!

Read on. It is gut-wrenching and unpleasant stuff. Then there is this: (Emphasis mine, again)

With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me. Almost all of my quotes are from a document that can be found online with the correspondence between the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In an October 31, 1997 handwritten document, I am quoted as saying ‘odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number wise, and especially because these are physically challenged , vulnerable people. “ Also quoted is this: “Children were approached within the confessional where the question of circumcision began the solicitation.”

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. 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.

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. That process would have taken months if not longer.

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.

Fourth, Pope Benedict has repeatedly apologized for the shame of the sexual abuse of children in various venues and to a worldwide audience. This has never happened before. He has met with victims. He has reigned in entire conferences of bishops on this matter, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland being the most recent. He has been most reactive and proactive of any international church official in history with regard to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors. Instead of blaming him for inaction on these matters, he has truly been a strong and effective leader on these issues.

Read on, read on. Read it all.

We’re in Lent; it’s Holy Week. This time of the year, it’s always something, and it’s always something that “changes everything!” If it’s not someone declaring that The Gospel of Judas (April, 2006) invalidates Christianity, then it’s someone claiming they’ve found Jesus’ casket (February, 2007). If it is not a Lent-long hype for a stupid movie, it’s the “Jesus was a racist” silliness (February, 2009)

This year, the NY Times managed to co-ordinate its Big Inaccurate Scoop of Sensationalism with a demonstration in Rome.

Look, as I said in this long response to a young man, we Catholics understand with devastating clarity what has been done, and what a burden falls upon the whole church, now. We know we have a difficult penance before us. As I wrote when Benedict visited the US in 2008:

The terrible sin of some of our priests, compounded by their bishops, has been a source of sickening and unrelenting shame for us. We have felt the disgust in our bellies and wished we could push the whole story away, because the pain is so abysmal and vast. But it can be pushed away no longer, and Benedict said that even before his plane hit the ground at Andrews AFB, and every day after.

But understanding and sympathizing with the victims, and their quests for attention, validation, justice and -most importantly- healing, does not mean we stand by while a different injustice is perpetrated against a man who, as Fr. Brundage attests, “has been most reactive and proactive of any international church official in history with regard to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors.”

To levy a heinous charge against the pope without even talking to relevant parties, and to parlay a notion via media that “possibly he knew or may have known something at some point and maybe did or did not do enough, which renders all that he has done to insufficiency and he should resign” is not only reckless; it creates an precedent by which, in the future, virtually no cardinal elected to the Chair of Peter would be safe from gossip about “something that happened, somewhere, that maybe he heard about three decades ago…”

In other words, we could then be facing at a string of pontiffs seated under a cloud and loudly slandered throughout their pontificates, until that glorious day when a “progressive” Pope who advocates birth control, divorce, female ordination, gay marriage and so forth is seated, at which point, all whispers will miraculously cease.

What has become clear to me, via emails and several requests from media outlets who want to discuss “the possibility of the pope resigning,” is that Pope Benedict is under siege because some want him to be under siege and would like nothing better than to take down this pontiff.

The quest for the Petrine scalp is a quest to do more than destroy a man; it is a quest to destroy any vestige of an institutional, organized Christian Church, and to send its members swirling into a spiritual maelstrom that will leave them untethered, dispirited and at the mercy of the secularist authorities. Displace the Roman centering pole from the Big Tent of Christianity, and the collapse snuffs out the flames of a million smaller churches born of this taproot.

Pope Benedict XVI has made some people very unhappy since even before his election, and certainly since his warning against the “dictatorship of relativism” which left some secularists, for whom relativism is paramount, in an uproar. That this aged pope attracts youthful crowds is something that cannot be endured. This pope is meeting with abuse victims; he is taking espicopal resignations, he is making room for Anglicans and making progress with Muslims and with the Orthodox church, too. He is making some feel threatened by “going backwards” and strengthening the church simultaneously.

No wonder a sloppy report founded on two dubious sources, and with no serious investigatory measures taken, is being given Watergate-level credence. Watergate, after all, took down a government.

The church’s own errors have brought us to this point, where she is truly vulnerable to attack, but let us not allow some to pretend that real changes have not been instituted under this pope, who has been zealous about addressing what he calls “the filth.” Let us not allow some to pretend that penance is not being done, and that substantial reform is not being undertaken and enforced.

We must understand that this attack is not simply upon the pope. It is meant to be a much-rallied battering ram pounded upon the gates of the church -and the churches- entire.

Meanwhile, the discussions go on. Some of them manage to be thoughtful, clear and considered, and others, not so much.

Deacon Greg
has much more

And do not miss: Jimmy Akin’s very well done, well thought out and informative piece. Wish I had seen it sooner. It’s a must-read!!

More on the Akin piece here

UPDATE I: Meanwhile, Newsweek’s “religion correspondant” Lisa Miller, who has a long history of getting both Benedict and Catholicism all wrong, gets heaven (and Jesus) wrong, too, and otherwise sneers

UPDATE II: Spreading the Big Lie

Related:
Strong words from Dolan
Fr. Daren J. Zehnle answers the Times
Evident and Despicable Intent
“NY Times Should be Held to Account”
Doubts About JP’s Sainthood
Palm Sunday Address
Cultural Obamalypse Attack on Pope
Praying for the Pope

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