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Church admits abuse victims came second

The Local · 2 Apr 2010, 10:07

Published: 02 Apr 2010 10:07 GMT+02:00

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In one of the frankest admissions yet to come out of the scandal-battered Catholic Church, the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, said help given to the victims of abuse “had not been enough.”

The statement, posted on the Archbishop's website, came as controversial Bishop Walter Mixa, accused of hitting children in a Catholic kids' home, was rebuffed in his efforts to meet and speak with his alleged victims.

In a statement provided to Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, Bishop Mixa denied hitting children and offered to meet his accusers, but two of these alleged victims dismissed his protests and rejected his overtures for a meeting.

Archbishop Zollitsch, meanwhile, admitted that the Catholic Church had made mistakes in the way it handled victims of child abuse.

He said the revelations of child abuse filled the Church with “sorrow, horror and shame.”

It shocked the Church, “how much suffering had been inflicted on the victims, who often, decades afterwards, could not express their injuries in words,'' he wrote in his Good Friday address.

He went on to say that ''misplaced fear about the reputation of the Church'' had meant help for the victims of abuse “had not been enough.”

“That is a painful reality into which we have put ourselves,” he wrote.

In one of the most high-profile cases, Bishop Mixa, who had previously claimed the sexual revolution was partly to blame for child abuse in the Church, has been accused of hitting children at the St. Josef children’s home in Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, in the 1970s and 1980s. One alleged victim has told Süddeutsche Zeitung: ''He punched me with full force in the face.''

In his statement, Mixa said: ''I am deeply shaken by the allegations that have been raised against me. I affirm once again that I have at no time used physical violence in any form against children and adolescents.

''I am ready to speak to men and women who lived at the St. Josef Children’s Home in the youth about their memories, experiences and accusations, to listen and learn about what weighed upon them in childhood.

''Ensuring the welfare and the future of children, adolescents and families has always been of the utmost concern to my pastoral work.''

Two of the six alleged victims declared themselves appalled by his offer and said they would refuse to meet with him.

Hildegard Sedlmair from the town of Stadtbergen near Augsburg, where Mixa is now bishop, said she was “shocked” by the offer and added that Mixa was “deceiving himself.”

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Jutta Stadler from Pfaffenhofen, north of Munich, branded Mixa’s statement “dishonest and brazen.”

She added that she would have been willing to meet and speak with Mixa, had he acknowledged in his statement that he had hit her.

“Under no circumstances will I speak to someone who portrays me as a liar,” she said.

The Catholic lay organisation, “We are the Church,” meanwhile called upon Mixa to step aside from his office until the claims against him could be resolved.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:13 April 2, 2010 by berlinski
What's really missing is all these perverts being stuck behind bars with someone like Mike Tyson as their cell mate.
22:46 April 2, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
SpiderPig,you are right,we already have the usual Catholic Church attackers -Pas,dcgi & berlinski here.I dont know if all their other mates are on holiday,but expected more vitrol and hate against the church especially as it is Godd Friday.Did all of you see that Bishop Mixa has met personally with two of the ladies who "accused "him of hitting them?A claim he has denied and he reserves the right to take them to court.It is the same old thing on these forums.Those against the Catholic Church can't even admit it has done some good over the years.To them it will always be evil.Now if all it's members are evil as you all often imply,then if they all did what pas suggests and leave the church would that make society in general evil or would they sudden all find they are no longer evil?
23:59 April 2, 2010 by dcgi
@rosenthalenglish: I think "Catholic Church attackers" is a poor choice of words; I realise that as your online profile says you are Catholic, I could imagine that you would not be able to receive our comments unbiasedly.

The simple fact is I don't care what religion covers up child abuse and protects the abusers, the reaction from myself [and the public] would be the same, justified outrage.

No religious organisation is above the law, both the abusers and the accessories to the crimes must be brought swiftly to justice, if that goes all the way to the pope and other high-ranking members, so be it.

As far as I'm concerned the comparison that the Catholic church made today to anti-Semitism is absolutely disgusting and smacks of a complete lack of responsibility and remorse.
11:59 April 3, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
Hi Guys,just because I am Catholic does not mean I cannot make an informed opinion.The problem is many many,because the church has covered it up and admited it,now feel,wether rightly or wrongly that everything that the church or a particular Bishop says is wrong and is a lie.So even though there is no eveidence that the Holy Father ACTUALLY knew about the case of the Priest in Munich being put to work in a Parish or the Priest in the USA who admited abuse of children,you all say he did.He has claimed that he knew nothing and in fact he may well have known nothing,but due to the cover-up everyone is now claiming he is lying.

I must admit the Catholic Church are not very good dealing with the Media.They have a lot to learn.They should have been far more pro-active about all this.When the US was having all the problems with Child Abuse was the time when the church should have come clean on abuse cases worldwide.Better that the boil was lanced in one go than to let it keep festering so each year the media are able to criticise.Yes much of the critism is justified,but much of it is also SPECULATION.Speculation is not fact,but it sells papers and so the papers can even put lies in about the church and as long as it sells papers and as long as the masses want to read the lies mingled in with the truth then the papers will make a profit at the exspence of truth.

I honestly thought most of you guys really do want the facts and the truth about news items.Why is it that when it concirns the Catholic Church you are all willing to drop your standards and let sloppy reporting and half truths be thrown into the ring?By all means criticise the Church for its handling of the case.They at the top deserve this critism.But lets get the right people who were really responsible for the cover-up.All the information I have read,when the facts are separated from the speculative reports shows quiet clearly that Pope Benedict has done more to fight and get rid of child abuse within the church than any other person.
13:49 April 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This is going to be lengthy, so please bear with me.


Zollitsch's self-serving mea culpa is too little, too late, and smacks of orchestrated damage control. That is a strategy of last resort for an organization that is unable and unwilling to purge itself of its most corrupt elements and face the truth of its sordid history.


I can understand why, as a Catholic, you are in denial about the role of the Church in protecting its abusive (and frequently monstrously criminal) clergy. To accept the truth could shatter your entire belief system. Your support of Ratzinger, however, is misplaced and naïve. Blaming the press for reporting on Ratzinger's role is disingenuous and equally naïve. You state that there is no evidence that Ratzinger knew about Father Lawrence Murphy, the priest in Milwaukee who sexually abused approximately 200 deaf children for 3 decades. I'm about to give you some proof. I hope you can deal with it.

In 1974 Murphy's 3-decade career of sexually abusing deaf children, beginning with solicitations in the confessional, was exposed by a group of his victims. Rather than turn the matter over to civil authorities for criminal prosecution, the Archbishop of Milwaukee transferred Murphy to Northern Wisconsin, where he continued working as a priest for the next 25 years. No effort was made even within the Church to censure him, punish him or even to keep him away from children.

Finally, in the early 1990s, many of Murphy's victims contacted the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with specific charges of sexual abuse. In 1995, the Archdiocese finally investigated these allegations and concluded that Murphy had probably sexually abused hundreds of children at the St. John's School for the Deaf during his tenure there, and had used the confessional to solicit many of them.

On July 17, 1996, the Archbishop of Milwaukee wrote a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, who was then a high-ranking official of the Holy See, stating that there were two priests, one of them Murphy, who were accused of sexually molesting numerous children, some in the confessional. Ratzinger did not respond to the letter.

In December, 1996, the Archbishop of Milwaukee again wrote to the Holy See's office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, about the priests accused of sexually abusing children. Again there was no response from Ratzinger or anyone else at the Vatican.

(to be continued….)
17:06 April 3, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
Prufrock,Thanks for taking the time and effort to give your explanation.You do not have all the facts.You never even bothered to mention that Father Murphy had been investigated by the Police in the mid 1970's,who for some reason or other was not arrested and prosecuted. Why did you forget this important fact.Did you not know it or was it deliberatly left out?

Bishop Weakland is more to blame than anyone else in this:Why did he take so long to do anything about it.Yes he wrote to the Vativan Congregation.But how can you prove Cardinal Ratzinger saw that letter?Bertone not Ratzinger replied and had the correspondance with Bishop Weakland.Bertone told Bishop Weakland to go ahead and prosecute.Even when the investigation was transferred to the Diocese of Superior Wisconscin,It was Bertone who coresponded with the Bishop.Murphy did make a request but there is no evidence that Cardinal Ratzinger dealt with it.The fact is Archbishop Weakland did not inform the person in charge of the canonical trail against Murphy.So Murphy was still the defenfdent in the case.The May 30th meeting did not have Cardibnal Ratzinger present.For more accurate information please see this page which is also critiacl of some of the dealings of the case(http://www.ncregister.com/blog/cardinal?utm_source=NCRegister.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=d4b7e41188-RSS_DAILY_EMAIL#When:14:59:15Z)
17:47 April 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@rosenthalenglish: What I provided was a summary based on court documents and exhibits in my possession. It is not the whole story, as to relate it would require me to write a book. Why the police did not arrest and prosecute Murphy in the 1970s I don't know. It could be that in the 1970s there was not a zeal on the part of law enforcement to prosecute priests; it could be that the then-applicable statute of limitations had expired; it could be that they didn't feel they could prevail in a criminal trial given that the complainants were children; or it could be that the Church obstructed the investigation. Murphy took a leave of absence in 1974 and left the diocese of Milwaukee, having been transferred by the Diocese amid allegations of sexual abuse.

Weakland was not the Archbishop at any time Murphy was in Milwaukee and only was appointed to that position many years later. Why did Weakland wait so long to act? In his letter to Ratzinger of July 17, 1996, he states: "Soon after I took office, I became aware that Father Murphy's leave of absence was due to sexual matters, but it was only less than one year ago when I learned of the possibility that solicitation in the confessional might be part of the situation. That is when I decided to have Father Connell conduct an investigation."

Was it too little too late? Undoubtedly. Was Weakland personally culpable? I don't know. To suggest that Weakland was more responsible than anyone else is absurd. Murphy was more responsible than anyone else. How do we know that Ratzinger ever read the correspondence that I cited? It was well known that Ratzinger read everything that came his way, from correspondence to memoranda to exceedingly recondite liturgical documents. That was his job as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The fact that he failed to reply personally, or replied only through his secretary Bertone, does not exonerate him. The letters were addressed to him personally. Whether he read them and responded only through Bertone or failed to read them, he was derelict in his duty.

Then, as now, Ratzinger was not in a position to pass the buck. In legal terms his liability falls under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which means that he is liable for the negligent acts or omissions of his underlings, just as the Church is now liable for the acts and omissions of all the other bishops, cardinals and priests who were and are responsible for either committing these monstrous acts or abetting them by covering them up.

Ratzinger, now as pope, takes the extraordinary position that "no one judges the Holy See." In other words, the Church doesn't have to answer to any authority outside of itself for any of its crimes. I guess we'll see about that.
19:49 April 3, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
Qprufrock-Some very well argued points-Although The CDF did not take over control of Paedophile priests till 2001.I don't agrre with all you say but clearly see what you are saying.Weakland only came to Rome because of the confession link,but his past decisions show he lives up to his name and should have dealt immediatly with it at Diocesan level.You are absolutely right that Murphy is entirely to blame for all this.Happy Easter Must go have to be at Mass in an hour.My wife is up at 0400hrs and I have to go again tommorrow.Only way we can get all the children to Mass to celebrate the great feast of The Ressurection.
23:49 April 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010

I appreciate the civil and respectful way in which you have engaged in this discussion. It demonstrates that people of differing points of view can disagree without being disagreeable, snide or disrespectful. I think we agree that there is a massive problem that needs to be dealt with effectively, and I hope that all decent people will strive to achieve justice for the victims, no matter where the evidence leads. My ultimate hope is that together we can all prevent this kind of thing from ever happening to another child again. Peace.
16:31 April 4, 2010 by rosenthalenglish

Well said.You are of course right.There is a massive problem and it MUST be sorted out and never happen again.Peace to you and all others on this forum on this great feast of Christ's Ressurection.
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