No, Benedict didn’t congratulate and reward Bishop Gerhard Müller of Regenburg for transferring an abuser, but it didn’t seem to make any difference to Benedict that Müller had done so.
Contrary to the promises of the German Bishops Conference, Müller reassigned a pedophile priest: Deutsche Welle reports:
The Bishop of Fulda, Heinz Josef Algermissen, said his colleague Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of
made a mistake in offering a second chance to a priest with a history of pedophilia. Regensburg
“If something has happened in the past with children, a new start should only be allowed at a distance from children,” Algermissen told the Bayern2 radio station.
The priest in question, identified only as Peter K., was found guilty in 2000 of making improper sexual advances toward a minor and received a 12-month suspended sentence. Müller reassigned the priest to the parish of Riekofen, a village near
, after that sentence expired. Regensburg
Police then arrested 39-year-old Peter K. on Aug. 30 for suspected sexual offences committed between 2003 and 2006.
Note that these latter offenses occurred after the firestorm of news about sexual abuse in the
The German bishops had promised not to reassign pedophiles:
In 2002, the German bishops acted to head off such a crisis, with the Conference of Bishops issuing guidelines on pedophilia. The needs of the victims were to have priority over the needs of the accused priest. Those rules say former pedophiles must not be employed in posts where they may have contact with children.
Müller seems not to have heard of the principle of contradiction:
Müller has denied breaching the guideline, saying he had a Christian duty to forgive and had been convinced that the paedophile priest had reformed his ways.
Müller weakly defended himself:
“Even a bishop can’t rule out the possibility of a priest misusing the freedom [of his position],” Müller said in an interview with the Catholic news agency KNA. “Priests are not marionettes. They themselves are responsible for what they do with parishioners.”
“It’s a German matter,” DPA news agency quoted a source within Radio
as saying. “The bishop will have to justify his behavior to his fellow bishops.” Vatican
But of course his fellow bishops can do nothing; only the Pope can discipline a bishop. Eux-tv reports:
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, chairman of the Conference of German Bishops, said the national body could not do more than establish guidelines and ultimate responsibility was with the dioceses themselves.
But the diocese, like so many American ones, didn’t care:
The mother of two boys molested by the priest in 1999 charged that diocesan staff had failed to help the victims, adding: ‘It’s a scandal that this bishop won’t admit to any fault. They don’t care about the children.’
Benedict has acted against abusers, but he has not disciplined this bishop (or any other) who tolerated and enabled abuse. Instead, Benedict congratulated Müller and appointed him to the Congergation for the Doctrineof the Faith, which also judges priests accused of sexual abuse. Bishops around the world notice.