Victims of Murphy’s law


Victims of Murphy’s law

Paul Byrnes March 16, 2013

From the link: http://www.watoday.com.au/entertainment/movies/victims-of-murphys-law-20130313-2g0o7.html

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I am old enough to remember those  words as part of the Latin Mass. I learnt them growing up in the Catholic Church  in Australia. We spoke them to ask forgiveness for our sins. ”Through my fault,  through my fault, through my most grievous fault …”

As I was learning them, the Vatican was receiving the first reports of the  extent of one priest’s sexual abuse of deaf children at St John’s School for the  Deaf in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Father Lawrence Murphy, ordained in 1950, was a  master of American Sign Language, a charismatic personality and a great  fund-raiser. He may also have abused more than 200 deaf children in the three  decades in which he was allowed to remain at St John’s, even after his  activities were reported to the Vatican.

Father Murphy took a holiday in 1958. Father David Walsh came to the school.  Some of the boys told him what Father Murphy was doing. Father Walsh reported  the allegations to Archbishop Meyer of Milwaukee and to the Vatican’s apostolic  delegate in Washington, DC. Walsh never came back. In 1963, Father Murphy was  promoted to head of the school.

This setting gives extra meaning to the title of Silence in the House of  God: Mea Maxima Culpa. Many of these boys arrived at St John’s aged just  four, from families in which they could not easily communicate. Many hearing  parents never learnt to sign.

When the abuse started, Murphy would interpret for the children when they  spoke to their parents.

Interviewed against a black background, victim Terry Kohut, now a teacher in  his 60s, signs with expressive gestures.

”I was afraid to tell my mother because I didn’t think she would believe  me,” he says. ”She would say a priest would never do something like that to  children. I kept it a secret.” On that word, he clenches his fists in front of  his mouth, signing ”secret”.

These interviews, with four of the children  Lawrence Murphy abused, offer a  story of unimaginable sadness. Gradually, their testimony becomes heroic. In  1973, Bob Bolger wrote a letter to Archbishop William Cousins of Milwaukee about  Murphy. Later that year, he and two fellow former pupils, Arthur Budzinski and  Gary Smith, went to the police. The police did not file charges, so these angry  young men made a flyer with Lawrence Murphy’s face and the words ”Most  Wanted”. They passed it out at church.

Murphy was finally removed as director of St John’s a year later after a  staff member threatened to go to the parents. Murphy was allowed to retire to a  family home in another diocese, where he continued to abuse other children. He  died in 1998, still a Catholic priest. He is buried in a Catholic cemetery in  his vestments. A canonical trial, begun in 1997 by the new archbishop of  Milwaukee, was abandoned in 1998 just before Murphy died.

Alex Gibney examines several other cases in this superb documentary. The  director talks to high-profile former priests, who criticise the church’s  response to the tsunami of sexual-abuse cases in the US. Gibney then takes the  allegations to Rome. For 25 years, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ran the  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as ”the  Inquisition”. Many of these cases went across his desk. After 2001, all cases  concerning a minor went  to him. Most of them were dealt with in secret. Even  when he wanted to investigate, Ratzinger was sometimes blocked by  Pope John  Paul II, a man now on the way to sainthood.

Gibney exposes the same worrying trends that we’ve seen here – disbelief,  followed by leniency towards the abuser and scant concern for the victim.

The film left me sick to my stomach and speechless with anger. I left the church  long ago. If I had still been part of it, this film would have made me leave. As  the cardinals gathered this week to choose a new pope, I wondered how many would  choose to watch it?

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About victimsofrapebythercc

The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: "Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them." (no. 2356) Note that rape is "an intrinsically evil act," meaning that it is evil at its very root, nothing justifies it, and it is objectively a mortal sin. An evil act was done against me, a crime, by a priest at St Thomas More Parish in Durham, NH. An evil and a crime I will no longer keep silent about. Those who perpetrate crimes against children, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church, should all be punished for their crimes against children. Anything less would be criminal.

Posted on March 16, 2013, in Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Father Lawrence Murphy, Pope Benedict, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse, Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa, St John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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