The Catholic church has always maintained the primacy of spiritual law rather than the laws of men.
However today’s New York Times bombshell suggests that recently it has been respecting neither.
The paper says the Vatican did not defrock an American priest in the 1990s despite clear warnings that his case was serious and could damage the church.
“We want Pope Benedict to end this wall of secrecy, to break down this wall of secrecy which has caused so much damage and harm in our church, and to open up the files so we can see exactly how he has been handling these cases,” say a representative of SPOT, the US victim’s campaign group.
A quartet of protestors at the Vatican today was swiftly moved on by police, but the scandal is now picking up a momentum of its own, and getting closer to the Pope himself.
Internal Vatican documents obtained by the New York Times show Reverend Laurence Murphy’s boss in Wisconsin, Bishop Weakland, wrote to the then Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, warning him of the danger.
The letter went unanswered. Two years later the priest was facing a secret church trial until he wrote to Ratzinger, appealing for clemency. The case was dropped, and the priest died shortly after.
Today a Vatican spokeman said Murphy had broken the law, but as there was no civil case against him church laws did not require automatic punishment.