NPR logo Punish Pope, Other Church Officials: Sex-Abuse Victim

Punish Pope, Other Church Officials: Sex-Abuse Victim

A man who has accused a now dead priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, of molesting him when the man was a child and living at a boarding school for deaf students, told reporters in Milwaukee Thursday that Catholic church officials should be punished for not responding appropriately to protect children and stop the cleric. And he appeared to include Pope Benedict XVI among those who should be sanctioned.

Contrary to Vatican claims that it didn't first learn about the abuse until the mid-1990s, Arthur Budzinski said he informed church officials, including some Vatican representatives, in 1974 that the priest had molested children.

An excerpt from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:

"The pope knew about this. He's the one who knew about this," Arthur Budzinski said. "He should be held accountable. I believe somebody should be punished."

The New York Times reported Thursday that documents unlocked as part of a lawsuit show that top Vatican officials, including Benedict, didn't defrock Murphy, despite many warnings by bishops.

The case involving Murphy, who is believed to have molested as many as 200 boys at St. John's School for the Deaf between 1950 and 1974, is one of thousands of cases that have been forwarded by bishops to the Vatican.

Budzinski, whose sign language was spoken by his daughter GiGi, said Murphy would come into their dorm at night, take them into a closet and molest them. Budzinski, who detailed abuse at the hands of Murphy to the Journal Sentinel in 2002, said he told Archbishop William E. Cousins and other officials about the abuse in 1974 when he was 26. The archbishop yelled at Budzinski, he said. He left the meeting crying.

Documents show that two Wisconsin bishops urged the Vatican office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to let them conduct a church trial against Murphy, but the Vatican ordered the process halted.

Ratzinger led the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005, according to the New York Times.

"During the mid-1970s, some of Father Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped," said Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi. "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some 20 years later."

Budzinski's news conference was a reminder of how the crime of sexual crimes more often than not have ripple effects far beyond the immediate victim.

His daughter GiGi, who served as her deaf father's sign-language translator, said:

He hopes they do something. I believe somebody should be punished for this. His innocence was stolen from him. His childhood, he was very depressed. He was not happy. He couldn't enjoy his childhood. Everything was stolen from him. And now, he's 61 years old and he's still fighting for this.

And now it's carried on to me, my family. Now, my niece, his grandchildren, all know about this. And it continues on down the family. That he hurt all of us. And this is what we deal with everyday. That Father Murphy did to my father.