St Augustine Cathedral, Tucson, Arizona, United StatesThe list of abusive priests whom the Vatican — and especially then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become current Pope Benedict XVI — refused to discipline, grows longer and longer. The latest examples of years of Vatican stalling were in Arizona. The AP reports via Google News on these revelations (WebCite cached article):

The future Pope Benedict XVI took over the abuse case of an Arizona priest, then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood, according to church correspondence.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that in the 1990s, a church tribunal found that the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., had molested children as far back as the late 1970s. The panel deemed his behavior — including allegations that he abused boys in a confessional — almost “satanic.” The tribunal referred his case to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005.

But it took 12 years from the time Ratzinger assumed control of the case in a signed letter until Teta was formally removed from ministry, a step only the Vatican can take.

The problem is not that Arizona church officials wouldn’t do anything about Fr Teta. They did. But there were limits, and dangers remained that they could not do anything about:

Teta was removed from ministry by the bishop, but because the church’s most severe punishment — laicization — can only be handed down from Rome, he remained on the church payroll and was working with young people outside the church.

Another Arizona priest, Msgr Robert Trupia, similarly was allowed access to children for many years in spite of diocesan requests for the Vatican to act.

Astonishingly enough, however, the Tucson diocese claims nothing was done wrong in either case:

Fred Allison, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, defended the Vatican’s handling of the Teta and Trupia cases. Internal church trials took years and the priests’ appeals took years more, Allison said.

Oh well. I guess that makes it OK to let a known abusive priest retain access to children. We can’t let a minor consideration such as the safety of children stand in the way of ensuring a long protracted ecclesiastical process be honored, now, can we?

Isn’t it strange how the organization that claims to be the world’s sole remaining arbiter of morality, can keep rationalizing allowing evil to continue to be done, within its ranks, and keeps justifying inaction, secrecy, and evasiveness?

P.S. Now that the AP is reporting on priests whom the Vatican wouldn’t stop, I wonder if the Vatican will now go on the offensive and claim the AP is “anti-Catholic” or part of a “masonic secularist” conspiracy — as they did when the New York Times reported on a similar priest in Wisconsin?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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