An Update, an Apology & a Repeat

Yesterday, in a post on the response to the New York Times story about the Milwaukee situation, I referred to the reply of Father Brundage, a central figure in the case, and repeated his claim that he had been misquoted by the Times.

The Times has now pointed out that he was not quoted at all in the Times story and that the misquote was in an AP story that appeared on the Times’ website.


I confess that I did not go back to the original Times story to see if Brundage had been misquoted. My bad.

It would be nice to see if the Times would show a similar willingness to examine the breadth of its claims which remain, I contend as do many others, unsupported by the documents they provided. I have just re-read the original article in the Times and it clearly leaves the impression that the primary fault for the failure to take action against the pedophile priest in Milwaukee lay with the Vatican and not with the authorities in Milwaukee. Alas, exposing the mistakes of previous archbishops of Milwaukee is not front page fare. I apologize for my error yesterday, but I do not withdraw my charge against the Times: Shame on them.   

Michael Sean Winters


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Vince Killoran
8 years ago
I would think a Catholic journalist critiquing the secular press would use the word "shame" sparingly these days.
I would be interested to learn your critique of the NPR news story from yesterday: they found that some American priests have been returned to active ministry who should never be allowed to do so.
Livia Fiordelisi
8 years ago
I thank our loving God for the intervention of the media surrounding this issue, even if it is inaccurate at times. We need as much coverage as possible to keep this in the public eye until there is some transparency.
Jesus stood silent before his accusers and trusted that God had all things in sight. He didn't marshall a team of attorneys or whine about unfair treatment or nitpic small matters while hiding or ignoring the facts. As a lifelong Catholic, I continue to be horrified by the abuse, ashamed by the cover-up and amazed at the arrogance of our whiny, self-serving leaders. They have nothing to teach me about discipleship.
Thomas Piatak
8 years ago
Thanks for writing this.
8 years ago
I believe it was Nietzsche who said that if you want to destroy Christianity, you do not attack their Creed, you go after their morality.  Recently, one of my avidily pro-choice , libertine friends asked me how the Catholic Church can continue to preach on morality after this scandal,  How, indeed.    I think there is a great difference now from the situation in 2002 when the Boston Globe did its investigative journalism.   Since then, Catholics, lay and hierarchy have been extremely vocal in debates regarding universal health care.  However, one stood on this issue, there was a lot of press given to the Catholic stand on abortion.  There was a huge turnout of thousands, some say about half amillion, of pro-life demonstrators in Washington.  A majority of them were young people.  Even if the media did not report on it, the media was aware that the tide may be turning in favor of the pro-life cause.  In American history the Catholic Church has been feared and envied for its power and wealth.  It seems that this fear has intensified to the point that to attack a bishop in Milwaukee is not sufficient.  Time to go for the big fish, the Pope.  The media should be called on their distortions and incompetent journalism.  How to do this??  As you said so well, we need to defend without being defensive.  Thank you Michael for you posts.
Gail Grazie
8 years ago
As I understand the reporting, Murphy sent a letter to the Vatican complaining that he should not be subjected to a trial because he was old and had repented of molesting/raping/abusing 200 deaf boys. He asked to be allowed to die "in the dignity of [his] priesthood" even though he had molested/raped/abused 200 deaf boys. The trial did not go forward and he was not defrocked. Was that the decision of the Pope or  someone in his office? As a Catholic I want to know. For this man to actually think he had a right to "the dignity of the priesthood" and for someone in the Church to agree with that -  turns my stomache and makes me want to cry. On this Holy Thursday I will pray for the healing of all the good and holy priests who live every day in the true dignity of the priesthood. The Church's attacks on the media are simply diversions from the main issue - was this an intentional decision to allow this man to die a priest and if so, whose decision was it? As horrible as this man's actions were I am sure that even he is not beyond's God's forgiveness. But he should never have been allowed the "dignity of the priesthood." Whatever you want to say about the Times, no one is claiming that this part of the story was wrong. Quite frankly once the Vatican received this man's letter, they should have been horrified and expedited the process to defrock him. It should have been automatic really - just like that Brazilian mother's excommunication was automatic when she acted to save her 9 year old daughter who had been raped by her stepfather.
Dimitri Cavalli
8 years ago
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has its own section on the Murphy case,
The Journal-Sentinel also published an interview with the former Milwaukee DA E. Michael McGann, see
McGann said that in 1974, he couldn't bring charges against Murphy because the allegations that his office investigated were beyond the six-year statute of limitations. 
So Ratzinger, who first hears of the case in 1996, is faulted for not speedily defrocking a priest who committed his crimes from 1950 to 1974 and who was not prosecuted by the Milwaukee civil authorities in 1974? So the issue is not a cover up of abuse but whether he should have been formally defrocked. Has anyone produced any evidence that Murphy molested children during the two-year period when Ratzinger's office was reviewing the case, and that Ratzinger covered those up? (Also his office just got the case because it involved the solicitation of sex in the Confessional.)
Even if Murphy was defrocked before his death, wouldn't critics dismiss this as empty gesture on part of the Vatican and church?


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