National Catholic Register


A Recent Timeline

BY The Editors

April 25-May 8, 2010 Issue | Posted 4/20/10 at 10:00 AM


Nov. 26 — The Murphy Report, commissioned by the Irish government to investigate the Archdiocese of Dublin’s handling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse, is released. It is the first report to focus on how allegations were handled by bishops.

Dec. 18-24 — In Ireland, Bishops Donal Murray, Jim Moriarty, Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh resign, under intense pressure. They were auxiliary bishops in Dublin during the time covered by the Murphy Report.


Jan. 28 — The principal of a Jesuit high school in Berlin writes a letter to 500 alumni admitting that systematic sexual abuse of its pupils took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

Feb. 25 — As revelations of clerical sexual abuse mount in Germany and Holland, the German bishops’ conference apologizes “sincerely to all those who have become victims of these despicable deeds and beg their forgiveness.” Bishop Stephan Ackermann is named special commissioner for dealing with the crisis.

March 7 — Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, brother of the Pope, says that he knows nothing of alleged sexual abuse in the Regensburg Domspatzen boys’ choir.

March 12 — The New York Times, with a front-page article, becomes the first English-language newspaper to discuss the Father Peter Hullermann case, broken the day before by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung.

March 13 — Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who handles cases brought against abusive priests for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives a rare and extensive interview on the crisis.

March 15 — Father Peter Hullermann is suspended from his priestly duties. Separately, Father Joseph Obermeier, head of pastoral care for the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, resigns for not having fulfilled his duties in monitoring the priest’s activities.

March 23 — The 2009 independent audit of American dioceses reveals that 6 credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors in 2009 have been reported, and that 6 million children have undergone safe-environment training.

March 24 — Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, Ireland, resigns over his failure to promptly report abusive priests to police.

March 25 — The New York Times breaks the Father Lawrence Murphy case in a front-page article. Arthur Budzinski, a deaf sexual abuse victim, uses sign language to communicate at a news conference.

March 26 — Cardinal William Levada writes a 2,400-word article debunking the Times’ account of the Murphy case, calling it “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.”

March 26 — Superiors of the Legionaries of Christ release a communiqué recognizing the abuse of seminarians by the congregation’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel, and asking forgiveness from those who accused him in the past and were not believed.

March 29 — The diocesan judge in charge of the Murphy case, Father Thomas Brundage, writes that not a single journalist had attempted to contact him to verify the facts of the case and that Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved to the best of his knowledge.

March 29 — Atheist activist Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, suggests that the Pope should be arrested on arrival in Great Britain in September.

March 30 – Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki says that the mistakes in the Murphy case “were not made in Rome” but “here, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”

March 31 — The Catholic Church in Denmark launches an investigation into a dozen cases of clerical abuse, some as early as the 1890s.

April 1 — Times reporter Laurie Goodstein publishes a follow-up story rectifying several points of the previous coverage of the Murphy case, dropping all accusations against Cardinal Ratzinger.

April 2 — Preaching at the Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica, papal preacher Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa quotes a letter from an unnamed Jewish friend comparing the attacks on the Church and the Pope to “the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

April 2 — The Holy See’s press office clarifies that “it is not the line of the Holy See to compare the attacks on the Pope over the pedophilia scandal to anti-Semitism.”

April 3 — AP breaks the case of Father Michael Teta and Msgr. Robert Trupia, claiming that Cardinal Ratzinger “delayed the defrocking process of dangerous priests.”

April 3 — The AP’s reconstruction of the Teta/Trupia case is immediately debunked by the Holy See’s press office and the Diocese of Tucson.

April 3 — A telephone hotline set up for abuse victims by the Church in Germany crashes on its first day under heavy load, and only 162 out of 4,459 callers are given advice.

April 4 — In a message of support read before Mass on Easter morning in St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former secretary of state, calls the Pope a “solid rock” and says that the people of God “will not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment.”

April 4 — Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, complains that he has spent 15 hours talking to reporters but that “no one seems to be listening.”

April 7 — The Vatican reveals that a Catholic bishop in Norway who resigned in 2009 did so over sexual abuse, but that the victim had requested anonymity and confidentiality in the matter at that time.

April 9 – AP breaks the Father Stephen Kiesle case, claiming that Cardinal Ratzinger “resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including ‘the good of the universal church.’”

April 9 – The Holy See’s press office immediately debunks the AP narrative in the Kiesle case.

April 9 — Bob Ellis of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation asks, “Why not bomb the Vatican, and riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames?”

April 11 — The Sunday Times reports that Richard Dawkins and Hitchens “have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.”

April 12 — The Vatican publishes a layman’s guide to the handling of abuse allegations on its website.

April 12 — Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone tells reporters that homosexuality, not celibacy, is linked to pedophilia. Without elaborating, he also says that Pope Benedict would soon take more surprising initiatives regarding the scandal.