What The Times Neglected To Mention

Vatican Declined to Defrock US Priest Who Abused Boys says the Formerly Grey Lady. Looks bad for then-Cardinal Ratzinger, because he didn't have the priest defrocked.

What's not mentioned in the story was the teeny-tiny detail that at the time, abuse cases were not under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (Ratzinger's congregation). No one is defending the priest or the failure to remove him from ministry...such failures are part of the reason CDF does have jurisdiction now. However, a lawyer well-acquainted with the Church's handling of abuse cases said in an email to Fr. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute:
Between 1983 (the new Code of Canon law) and the motu proprio of 2001, the CDF did not have jurisdiction over child sex abuse cases.  That is the time period when the letters were written to the CDF.
The CDF handled the case properly, under the law -- they told the bishop to start a canonical trial (although the offenses would have been time-barred anyway), and it was his responsibility to take the appropriate action.In this particular case, it was his obligation as the ordinary of the archdiocese to take appropriate action against the priest who committed crimes against youth.Whether prosecutable under civil law or canon law, it was still his duty to do remove that priest from ministry -- not Rome's.
Phil Lawler points out several other such teeny-tiny details.
The allegations of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy began in 1955 and continued in 1974, according to the Times account. The Vatican was first notified in 1996: 40 years after Church officials in Wisconsin were first made aware of the problem.
Shameful, hideous, ugly. Better for him that a millstone be put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea, as the Lord said. But it's a little much for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to ignore the case for 40 years and then accuse the Vatican of being slow because they took 8 months to answer. (Whose case gets handled w/n 8 months in our civil courts?) There are other points worth noting, but Lawler's conclusion is this:
This is a story about the abject failure of the Milwaukee archdiocese to discipline a dangerous priest, and the tardy effort by Archbishop Weakland--who would soon become the subject of a major scandal himself--to shift responsibility to Rome.
Nice try. Pope is still the good guy here.