U.S. and German abuse inquiries are inching ever closer to the Pope himself. New documents obtained by the New York Times allege Joseph Ratzinger, then cardinal and now Pope, knew of 200 abuse cases by a single priest, but did nothing.
Next week is Easter and the Pope will give his usual and multilingual Urbi et Orbi blessings from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
In the midst of religious celebration is scandal, and media reports may shed light on aspects of the church not typically associated with Easter celebration.
Recent media reports accuse the Pope of protecting Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy in 1996 when he was accused of molesting up to 200 deaf boys between 1950 and 1974.
These are new facts in the ongoing series of scandals, and perhaps criminal investigations, putting a critical eye on the Roman Catholic church.
Until now, reports in the media mainly focus on secretive priests, bishops and archbishops who claim to know nothing about cases of abuse.
But new documents obtained by the New York Times and discussed in the article Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys, accuse the current Pope, Benedict XVI, of knowing about abuse.
In his previous job as chief doctrinal enforcer, Pope Benedict XVI was the head of the inquisition that is now called "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." The documents obtained by the New York Times accuse the Pope of knowing of at least one instance in which an American priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, had abused almost 200 boys at the school where he taught.
Then-archbishop of Wisconsin reportedly alerted Cardinal Ratzinger to the facts in two letters, but the Times reports that no action was taken.
Instead, the future Pope seems to have gven in to Murphy's personal request to be allowed to die as a priest rather than be known as a child abuser or criminal. The Reverend Murphy did in fact die two years later, and it seemed as though his case was closed.
All the details, however, saw the light of day when relevant church files were unearthed as part of a lawsuit. According to France 24, the "Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Thursday issued a full statement, which had been quoted in part by the Times, defending the Pope's actions."
Lombardi's statement reads, "The Milwaukee diocese was asked at the time to take action by 'restricting Father Murphy's public ministry' and requiring that Father Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts."