Friday, April 9, 2010
The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including “the good of the universal church,” according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.
The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican’s insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office.
The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.
The Vatican refused to comment on the contents of the letter Friday, but a spokesman confirmed it bore Ratzinger’s signature.
The diocese recommended removing Rev. Stephen Kiesle from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.
But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the “good of the universal church” and the “detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly considering the young age.” Kiesle was 38 at the time.
Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years’ probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.
The evidence is now conclusive. Pope Benedict XVI is complicit is the cover-up of the largest priest sex abuse scandal in modern history. It is incumbent upon Catholics to demand their Pope immediately resign. Joseph Ratzinger is morally decrepit, ethically bankrupt and psychologically ill-suited to be the spiritual leader of the 1.1 billion member Roman Catholic Church.