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1963 letter: Pope Paul VI aware of pedophile priests; Vatican plans immunity defense for Benedict

Finally the media realizes that there is a very long paper trail that goes back decades documenting the Catholic Church’s hierarchy was well aware of its little rape and molestation problem and did nothing except keep matters secret and play the “shuffle the priest around” game. While children were being raped by the “loving” spiritual leaders in their communities, Pope Paul VI was notified about the ritual abuse — that was in 1963.

The head of a Roman Catholic order that specialized in the treatment of pedophile priests visited with the then-pope nearly 50 years ago and followed up with a letter recommending the removal of pedophile priests from ministry, according to a copy of the letter released Wednesday.

In the Aug. 27, 1963 letter, the head of the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete tells the pope he recommends removing pedophile priests from active ministry and strongly urges defrocking repeat offenders.

The letter, written by the Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald, appears to have been drafted at the request of the pope and summarizes Fitzgerald’s thoughts on problem priests after his Vatican visit.

…The letter proves that Vatican officials knew about clergy abuse decades ago and should have done more to protect children, said Tony DeMarco, an attorney for clergy abuse victims in Los Angeles.

And knowledge of the problem goes back even further than that. The NYT has a letter to a bishop that is dated Sept 12, 1952.

With Bill Donohue taking his pedophile defense publicity tour around the cable channels, the wheels are coming off of his wagon. Even the Vatican is circling its wagons around Papa Ratzi, who most certainly knows about all of these documents under wraps. Why? He’s being named in a lawsuit and the plaintiffs seek to depose Benedict under oath.

Dragged deep into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defence that it hopes will shield Pope Benedict XVI from a lawsuit in Kentucky.

The Holy See is trying to fend off the first United States case that determines whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself.

The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican.

Their lawyer is seeking class-action status, saying there are thousands of victims across the country.

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before the Pope can be questioned or documents subpoenaed.

According to the AP , Vatican lawyers plan to argue:

  • that the pope has immunity as a head of state;
  • that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t employees of the Vatican;
  • that a 1962 document is not the “smoking gun” that provides proof of a cover-up.

Like I said, the ton of documents that the NYT has posted can’t be shot down; it’s not just one smoking gun. It’s a rapid-fire machine gun of evidence. The complaint can be read here.

More I’m-not-sh*tting-you-level stories below the fold.It just doesn’t stop:

* Pope-appointed bishop accused of ritually beating orphaned children. The sadism of a “good friend” of the Pope is alleged. The Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, is accused of using a carpet beater on the bare behinds of victims as he screamed: ‘Satan is in you and I must drive him out.’ The former residents claimed that Catholic nuns who ran the home also hit children with brooms and wooden shoes.

* Vatican Official Defends Pope’s Handling of Case. This NYT piece, an interview with the anti-gay Vatican defender Cardinal William J. Levada, has so many examples of the delusional thinking inside the world of the pedophile priest enablers, that I don’t know where to begin.

He said The Times’s coverage had been “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.”

Cardinal Levada said that although Father Murphy never faced judgment in a criminal or canonical court, the priest had not evaded it altogether.

“As a believer,” he wrote in his statement, “I have no doubt that Murphy will face the One who judges both the living and the dead.”

Basically, anything goes; you can escape earthly punishment for criminal deeds such as raping children, because God will getcha in the end. Case closed for these people.

In light of media reports that have questioned what Benedict knew about abuse cases, Cardinal Levada said, “Anyone can say, ‘Why didn’t you do this?’ ‘You could have done this better.’ That’s part of life, but certainly it’s not the case to say that he is deficient,” Cardinal Levada said.

Are you picking your jaws up off of the table yet? Hold that thought, let’s end with this spectacle.

The senior Vatican official said that the pope himself was “serene” in the face of news reports but probably upset on behalf of Catholics.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding