Just when American Catholics thought that the worst in the church's abuse crisis was history, Europe finds tremendous abuse in a number of countries along with a cover-up that has ensnared Pope Benedict XVI.
At the time of his elevation to pope, Benedict received a pass with his propensity to being less than truthful. He initially failed to admit that as he had served under Hitler as a member of the Luftwaffenhelfer program, then as a participant in the Reichsarbeitsdienst, and then in the German army in World War II.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was just a young boy and his fear could be understood in retrospect.
Now, however, the pope faces a more serious challenge to his papacy. The New York Times reported on March 25 that the Vatican refused to defrock an American priest who ultimately molested at least 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin.
Two bishops from Wisconsin warned Cardinal Ratzinger that without action, the situation could prove to be terribly embarrassing to the church and could be damaging to young boys.
As a result of Ratzinger's inaction, hundreds of young, deaf boys were molested, and the priest who was guilty of the abuse was not tried or removed from ministry. He passed away with full honors as a priest
From 1981 to 2005,Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that enforces church law regarding accused priests.
According to the Times story, Ratzinger did not reply to letters sent to him in 1996 about the priest, Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who worked at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. The archbishops requested that disciplinary proceedings start against Murphy, but Ratzinger's Vatican office decided not to continue these actions.
In addition to this revelation, earlier reports noted that as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger transferred a priest who was a suspected pedophile to a job where he continued to abuse children, according to a report by the Associated Press.
In essence, Ratzinger attempted to sweep everything under the carpet, just as Cardinal Charles Law did in Boston prior to the publication of horrific stories by the Boston Globe. In fact, the Vatican reaction in late March in which it condemned the media reeks of Law's tirade about the Globe.
The essence of the stories in both cases was that many more young boys were molested over the years because the church did not notify civil authorities about the criminal behavior.
This pope should retire. His inaction was not only damaging to hundreds of children, it was also a violation of the criminal law in the U.S. and in Germany. He conspired to allow pedophiles to continue to teach and work in activities with young people.
This is heartbreaking to the children and to their families. The pope condemned the inaction in Ireland that have recently come to light, but he was the person who was responsible for enforcing this.
The Catholic Church has undergone tremendous humiliation because of its clergy and subsequent coverup.
The pope and Cardinal Law should apologize for such actions, and then retire from active ministry. Each has wracked immeasurable damage to the church.