A FORMER vicar-general in the archdiocese of Munich has claimed that he was pressurised last month into taking the blame for a mistake made 30 years ago by the then Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), concerning the case of a paedophile priest.

Fr Gerhard Gruber has now said he did so only after coming under huge pressure from unnamed Catholic Church sources to take responsibility, so as to “take the pope out of the firing line”.

Story here

I’d like to comment more, but I’ve been told to shut up in matters of the Pope.

Well, not really. The truth is that I’ve not read much about this latest story and don’t have an opinion on it yet. I do have an opinion on the Church’s cover up of widespread sexual child abuse: Go fuck yourself, church. Does anyone have a problem with that?

Comments

  1. #1 gruntled atheist
    April 20, 2010

    Does anyone have a problem with that?

    Sounds about right.

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    April 20, 2010

    No problem with that here either.

  3. #3 chuck13
    April 20, 2010

    No problem here. You know since the Church is in shut/cover-up mode there is likely a lot more to be learned as time goes by

  4. #4 Badger3k
    April 21, 2010

    But…the Pope said to the victims in Malta, that those guilty will be punished…surely Papa Ratzi didn’t lie…

    I’ll borrow a friends phrase that I’ve been using for nearly twenty years. Pigfuckers. One and all.

  5. #5 Paul Murray
    April 21, 2010

    Pressurised! Not mereley pressured, but pressurised! Seems the inquisition is doing it with air hoses these days.

  6. #6 Phillip IV
    April 21, 2010

    Paul Murray @ #5:

    Seems the inquisition is doing it with air hoses these days.

    Which is a major improvement, compared to doing it with altar boys.

  7. #7 Tony P
    April 21, 2010

    No problem at all Greg. In fact I’ll go you one further.

    I’d love to see the Catholic Church bankrupted. Then they’d have to auction off all sort of precious artworks.

  8. #8 Michael
    April 21, 2010
  9. #9 dean
    April 21, 2010

    As a priest at my wife’s church said last week: these stories are only troubling if they you believe them to be true. If you take them as nothing more than wild allegations in the constant attacks on the church and the pope, they merely test you.

    It must take massive balls to think like that (maybe that is the source of the priest/child problem).

  10. #10 Irene Delse
    April 21, 2010

    The international edition of the German newspaper Der Spiegel, in English, gives more info on Mgr Gruber’s story:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,689761,00.html

  11. #11 Michael
    April 21, 2010

    Irene Delse @#10:

    This story from der Spiegel has been denied explicitly by Gerhard Gruber himself. See the links I provided in #8 which are both from today (4/21) and respond directly to the Spiegel story (which appeared in German this weekend and in English on Monday, 4/19).

    The Spiegel story was based on second-hand reports. The WSJ and Suddeutsche Zeitung stories are based on interviews with Gruber in which he explains the misunderstandings behind the Spiegel story.

    Decide for yourself who to believe, I guess. But get all sides of the story.

  12. #12 Phillip IV
    April 21, 2010

    Michael @ #11:

    The Spiegel story was based on second-hand reports.

    Not quite – the Spiegel story is based on a private letter Gruber sent to a friend, and which was made available to Spiegel journalists. Gruber’s official denial isn’t surprising in that context, but Spiegel will likely stick with their story. And Spiegel is pretty much Germany’s most reputable weekly – while I think it’s theoretically possible that they fell for a forgery, I’m positive they didn’t just make it all up from whole cloth.

  13. #13 Michael
    April 21, 2010

    Phillip IV @#12:

    “the Spiegel story is based on a private letter Gruber sent to a friend, and which was made available to Spiegel journalists.”

    Not according to Gruber. He says that what Spiegel was going on was an e-mail newsletter written by one of his friends, and circulated among his friends, based on a telephone conversation in which he had been misunderstood.

    I suggest you read the articles I linked to, in which Gruber is actually quoted, unlike the Spiegel article. The Wall Street Journal article says that they have reviewed the correspondence, and also names Gruber’s friends, unlike the Spiegel article.

    Although the WSJ article is behind a subscriber paywall, by googling the title I found I was able to read the whole thing.

  14. #14 Michael
    April 21, 2010

    PS: As far as I can tell, the Spiegel didn’t even bother to try to contact Gruber at all.

  15. #15 Phillip IV
    April 22, 2010

    Michael @ #13:

    Not according to Gruber. He says that what Spiegel was going on was an e-mail newsletter written by one of his friends, and circulated among his friends, based on a telephone conversation in which he had been misunderstood.

    Yes, that’s correct – I wrongly remembered the Spiegel story.

    But the point remains the same: Gruber has officially denied a cover-up both before as well as after the Spiegel story, at the same time Spiegel continues to claim he has said differently in private conversation – it is really just a question who you believe. And as far as that is concerned: Spiegel is a reputable news magazine, Gruber is a RCC official – in light of a slew of recent revelations, I personally don’t see much ambivalence as to who is more trustworthy.

    The misunderstanding that Gruber claims hinges on the German term “eigenmächtig”, which means “under his own authority” in RCC lingo, but in standard German means “unauthorized”. I guess it could possibly form the basis of a misunderstanding, but it seems somewhat of a stretch that Gruber’s friend misinterpreted the whole gist of the conversation based on that.

  16. #16 Michael
    April 22, 2010

    Phillip IV @#14:
    The main misunderstanding Gruber claims to see in his friend’s communication is not the one you cited. What you cited was Gruber’s complaint about the archdiocese’s statement. He really was unhappy with that part of the statement. He did not like his action to be seen as arbitrary or without authority.

    But this was not a misunderstanding on his friend’s part. The misunderstanding instead this: he had told his friend he was under “time pressure” — he and the archdiocese both wanted to get a statement out quickly.

    His friend understood him to mean that he was being pressured to do something he didn’t want to do. That was the key misunderstanding, according to Gruber.

    According to the WSJ:
    “Father Gruber said that although his friend Mr. Romahn “meant well” by writing the letters, he had partly misunderstood him. Father Gruber said he had described how on March 12, the day he was asked to approve and make any changes to a draft of the archdiocese press release on the Hullermann incident, he was under “time pressure”—but not pressured to sign off on something he didn’t agree with.”

    (I imagine he might have said to his friend something like “you can’t imagine the pressure I’m working under” or words to that effect, which could easily be understood in more than one way. Since this was a telephone conversation there is no record to check.)

    As I said, der Spiegel gives no evidence of having spoken to Gruber. Moreover, they claim to have seen a letter *written by Gruber* (“To everyone’s surprise, Gruber wrote an open letter”).

    The WSJ, however, talks *both* about Gruber writing to his friends, and about a *letter written by one of Gruber’s friends.*

    “Privately, in correspondence with friends, the 81-year-old former vicar general has stood by the press statement but at the same time chafed at how an archdiocese spokesman described his role. Earlier this month, a confidante of Father Gruber sent a letter to a small circle of mutual theologian friends raising questions about the circumstances of Father Gruber’s statement in the press release. Walter Romahn, a former academic who studied at the same pontifical college in Rome as Father Gruber, wrote that Father Gruber had told him in a phone call that he had been pressured to take sole responsibility for the handling of the priest.”

    Moreover, the WSJ says that they have examined the correspondence and that it is the same material relied upon by Der Spiegel. “The correspondence, earlier reported by Germany’s Der Spiegel, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

    If the WSJ is correct, then der Spiegel made the elementary mistake of taking a letter written about Gruber by his friend, to be an “open letter” from Gruber.

    It is pretty obvious that if you are going to believe Der Spiegel no matter what Gruber says, even though they have not produced any real evidence (for example they have not produced the supposed letter, and after all the WSJ is a reputable news source as well, and they have examined the same correspondence as Der Spiegel), then there is nothing that could convince you to change your opinion.

    Which, as I seem to recall, is the charge made against people of faith by atheists.

    If I am wrong, explain what evidence could be provided stronger than what is in the WSJ report that would convince you that Der Spiegel made a mistake.

  17. #17 Phillip IV
    April 22, 2010

    Michael @ # 16:

    As I said, der Spiegel gives no evidence of having spoken to Gruber. Moreover, they claim to have seen a letter *written by Gruber* (“To everyone’s surprise, Gruber wrote an open letter”).

    The WSJ, however, talks *both* about Gruber writing to his friends, and about a *letter written by one of Gruber’s friends.*

    According to both the Spiegel as well as the Süddeutsche Zeitung articles, there was an open letter, written by one of Gruber’s friends after a private telephone conversation with Gruber. In that letter, the friend wrote that Gruber had claimed to have been pressured to assume full responsibility for the fateful decision. All these facts have also been confirmed by Gruber in the Süddeutsche Zeitung article.

    All that Gruber claimed, following the Spiegel story, was that said friend had misunderstood him regarding the word ‘eigenmächtig’ and the ‘Druck’ he mentioned (‘Druck’ could refer both to time pressure as well as any other kind of pressure).

    The facts are not really in doubt here, it’s just a question of whom you believe – either Gruber has been misunderstood by his friend (which would seem like a rather major misunderstanding) or he did privately complain to his friend, expecting that conversation to remain private, and is now only claiming to have been misunderstood to cover himself. It comes down purely to the question of how much you trust Gruber’s statement. And in my book, the base thrustworthiness rating of RCC officials currently hovers around 0.

  18. #18 Michael
    April 22, 2010

    Phillip IV @#17:

    Ah yes. RCC officials can’t be trusted. Except when they say what you already believed to be true anyway.

    When Gruber is reported by “theologian friends” to have said he was pressured, though, let’s all be happy to believe them and him, no questions asked. But if he inconveniently says he was misunderstood, that’s “spin” and of course he was pressured into that to.

    Heads you win, tails I lose.

    I do believe you haven’t answered the question of whether there is any evidence that could possibly change your mind.

  19. #19 Phillip IV
    April 22, 2010

    When Gruber is reported by “theologian friends” to have said he was pressured, though, let’s all be happy to believe them and him, no questions asked. But if he inconveniently says he was misunderstood, that’s “spin” and of course he was pressured into that to.

    I have never claimed to know for sure that Gruber was lying – I was just countering the contention that Gruber’s denial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung interview invalidated the earlier Spiegel story. His denial was inevitable – if the Spiegel story was false, the denial would be legitimate, if the Spiegel story was correct, he would have been lying from the start.

    Thus, Gruber’s denial is irrelevant to the plausibility of the earlier report, and it comes down just to a matter of trust. I, personally, distrust his statements on the basis of his organizations track record in that particular regard, but your mileage might naturally vary.

    As far as your question regarding evidence is concerned: the absence of pressure on Gruber is naturally difficult to prove objectively, but releasing all of the internal paperwork connected to the original decision would at least help to reach a better assessment of the probabilities involved – so I think the RCC should start with that.

  20. #20 Om Sairam
    December 31, 2010

    If history had been taught according to Truth, that the hirarchy has tortured, killed and murdered, stolen property etc.who could trust these perverted men? The wealth of the Vatican is mired in blood. Here in Canada are massgraves of thousands of children murdered in katholic schools even on electric chairs. May be we can now receive justice and have our voices heard.