Andrew Sullivan just lobbed this grenade into the blogosphere:
A priest is discovered to have been actively molesting children. His superior is notified in 1980. One of the things he is told of is the priest’s forcing an 11 year old boy to perform oral sex on him. The superior does not contact the police. He approves a transfer of the priest to a different city, where the priest is required to undergo therapy but is also subsequently able to resume his work with access to children. Six years later, the priest is again found guilty of abusing children. This time, he serves a sentence, but he is subsequently allowed to resume work as a priest, with the church authorities hiding his past from future parishes, and is only removed from his position three days ago.
Joseph Ratzinger was the superior, he reviewed the man’s files in 1980, and he was subsequently in charge of reviewing all sex abuse cases as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine Of The Faith in Rome. He was integral to the policy of hushing up as much of this as possible.
But do the facts really add up? Um, no.
While journalists have been using a sex-abuse case in the Munich archdiocese in efforts to form a direct link to Pope Benedict XVI, emerging details of the case show clearly that the future Pontiff was not involved in appointing the accused molester to do parish work.
Meanwhile the Munich archdiocese has suspended the priest at the center of the scandal, explaining that he has violated an agreement not to have contact with young people.
The priest– previously known only as “H” but not identified in a New York Times account as Peter Hullermann– was a priest in the Essen diocese in 1980, when he was first accused of sexual misconduct. At the time then-Cardinal Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich. The New York Times reports: “The future pope approved his transfer to Munich.” That sentence is grossly misleading; the Times neglects to add the crucial fact that Cardinal Ratzinger approved the accused priest’s entry into a counseling program in Munich; he did not approve him for a parish assignment.
As officials both in Munich and at the Vatican had previously explained, the vicar-general of the Munich archdiocese later allowed Father Hullerman to work in a parish. The vicar general has stated that he made this decision without the knowledge– let alone approval– of Cardinal Ratzinger.
Father Hullerman was given a parish assignment in September 1982– 7 months after Cardinal Ratzinger resigned his post as Archbishop of Munich, having taken up his new responsibilities as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.