POLITICAL observations & opinions

* the church knew what these vile priests were doing and enabled them to keep on doing it; everyone involved in the abuses, the transfers, and the cover-up should be prosecuted on criminal charges, beginning with Joseph Ratzinger himself

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2010

the child molester Peter Hullerman and his enabler Joseph Ratzinger

Katrin Bennhold, Nicholas Kulish and Rachel Donadio write in the NYT (3/25/10) …

  • prosecutors said they were weighing criminal charges against a priest suspected of molesting children in Germany
  • The possibility of criminal charges emerged from new accusations against a priest at the center of the child-molesting scandal rocking the church in Germany.
  • On Wednesday, church officials in Munich said the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann — whose transfer in 1980 to an archdiocese led at the time by Benedict, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, has drawn the pope himself into the nation’s child abuse controversy — had been accused of molesting a minor as recently as 1998.
  • The latest revelation comes as church officials in northern Germany say they have “credible evidence” of at least two other cases of sexual abuse committed by Father Hullermann in the 1970s, adding to a trail of accusations that suggest a pattern of abuse over two decades.
  • During that time, church officials repeatedly transferred Father Hullermann to new parishes and allowed him to work with children, even after a 1986 conviction for sexually abusing boys.
    • Father Hullermann has not returned repeated calls and hung up without comment when reached briefly on Wednesday.
    • So far, no cases have emerged from the two-year period when Father Hullermann worked at St. John the Baptist Church in Munich and Benedict was archbishop. But accusations have now surfaced at every other stop between Father Hullermann’s ordination in 1973 and his criminal conviction in 1986, and during a later assignment in 1998.
    • Father Hullermann was abruptly transferred from Bottrop to Essen in 1977, but, according to Mr. Lota, there are no references in his file to abuse from that time.
    • Two years later, three sets of parents told the priest in charge of Father Hullermann’s new church that he had abused their children, prompting his transfer to Munich for therapy, where he was returned to parish duties.
    • After just over two years in Munich he was transferred once again, this time to the nearby town of Grafing. There, he abused several boys, leading to his conviction in 1986, which resulted in a suspended sentence of five years’ probation and a fine.
    • He then spent one year working in a nursing home before he was sent to a parish in Garching.
  • On Tuesday, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the archbishop at the time of Father Hullermann’s transfer to Garching, asked victims and their families to forgive him for allowing the priest to transfer to there during his tenure. “I am now painfully aware that I should have made a different decision at the time,” said Cardinal Wetter, who stepped down as archbishop in 2007.
    • Wolfgang Reichenwallner, the mayor of Garching, where Father Hullermann worked for 21 years after his 1986 conviction, said that the apology had come “awfully late” and that town officials had not been informed about the priest’s repeated transgressions.
  • Cardinal Wetter said he had “overestimated a person’s ability to change and underestimated the difficulties of therapeutic treatment for people with pedophile tendencies.”
    • The Munich archdiocese, in its initial statement on Father Hullermann’s case this month, said “the statements of the treating psychologist” were decisive in his return to parish duties.
    • But Dr. Werner Huth, the psychiatrist who treated Father Hullermann from 1980 to 1992, said last week that from the very outset he had repeatedly warned church officials not to allow the priest to work with children ever again.

Katrin Bennhold and Nicholas Kulish reported from Munich, and Rachel Donadio from Rome. Eamon Quinn contributed reporting from Dublin.

An earlier version of this article misstated the scale of the abuse scandal within the Irish church as described in Irish government reports last year. The reports revealed the abuse of tens of thousands of children, not hundreds of thousands of children.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25church.html?src=me

LMW COMMENT …

The church knew what these vile priests were doing and enabled them to keep on doing it; everyone involved in the abuses, the transfers, and the cover-up should be prosecuted on criminal charges, beginning with Joseph Ratzinger himself.

******

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