Pope acted expeditiously on molestation: Vatican

Brad Norington, 12/4/10; (2 Items)

The Vatican has insisted the Pope acted “expeditiously” by the standards of the time when he hesitated – as a cardinal – to dismiss a priest convicted of molesting two boys. lawyer for the Vatican issued a statement yesterday after reports that the Pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, signed a letter in 1985 saying more time was needed and “the good of the universal Church” had to be considered. After weeks of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church in Europe and the US, the Pope has attracted personal criticism over his handling of a further case involving Stephen Kiesle, who was convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/pope-acted-expeditiously-on-molestation-vatican/story-e6frg6so-1225852463752; Church abuse cover-ups scandal moves to Britain; Jonathan-Wyne jones; 12/4/10; http://www.theage.com.au/world/church-abuse-coverups-scandal-moves-to-britain-20100411-s0rd.html

Pope drawn in deeper as abuse cover-up spreads
Jonathan Wynne-Jones; 12/4/10; Telegraph, London, Los Angeles Times, No internet Text
As the scandal over abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church moves to Britain, it has been revealed that a priest who admitted indecently assaulting deaf boys at a school in Yorkshire has been allowed to remain as a cleric. The Right Reverend Arthur Roche, the Bishop of Leeds, sent letters to the Vatican asking for advice on what action should be taken against Father Neil GalIanagh, after details of his offences emerged, but decided not to defrock him.
Victims’ support groups said that the church’s failure to pursue the toughest possible course of action against Father Gallanagh seriously undermined its attempts to send a clear statement that priests guilty of abuse have been properly punished.
The disclosure comes as Pope Benedict finds himself — embroiled in new revelations over child sex abuse, following the emergence of a letter signed by him as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1985, resisting the defrocking of Stephen Kiesle, an American priest who had been convicted of offences against young boys.
The letter was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the diocese of Oakland, California, and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of Kiesle, sentenced to three years probation in 1978 for lewd conduct with two young boys in San Francisco.
The Vatican insisted on Saturday that the Pope had done nothing wrong. A Vatican lawyer said that it was the local bishop, John Cummins of Oakland, who bore primary responsibility for protecting children from the abusive priest, and that the Pope had acted appropriately when he declined to take action.
“It’s the job of the bishop to discipline the priest,” said the lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, of Berkeley, California, in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “The Pope is not a five-star general ordering his troops around. That is simply an incorrect idea about the allocation of authority as between the Pope and his fellow bishops.”
In the letter, Cardinal Ratzinger – who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for tackling abuse by clerics – said the “good of the universal church” needed to be considered in any defrocking.
Kiesle was ultimately defrocked in 1987. In 2004 he was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting to molesting a young girl in 1995. Now 63, he is on the registered sex offenders list in California.
The Vatican says the Pope was exercising due caution before sacking the priest.
The decision not to defrock Father Gallagher is likely to prove embarrassing for the church in Britain, which has until now escaped being dragged into the crisis engulfing Catholicism.