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Vatican Denounces Media's 'Smear Campaign'

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The Vatican is denouncing what it is calling the media's "smear campaign" over recent coverage of the Pope's role in two priest sexual abuse cases in Wisconsin and in Germany. The BBC reports that the Vatican called the attacks ignoble and that there is no cover up.

The first case involves Wisconsin Reverend Lawrence Murphy, who was accused of molesting as many as 200 deaf boys while working at a school from 1950 to 1974, according to The New York Times. An office the Pope oversaw then, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, blocked Reverend Murphy's defrocking case after Murphy wrote to the Pope, who was then Cardinal Ratzinger, asking for leniency. “I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life. Murphy died in 1998, still a priest.

In explaining the decision to block the trial, Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted that the alleged offenses had occurred outside the church's statute of limitations. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Vatican's doctrinal body that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

The second sexual abuse case the Pope had a role in is Reverend Peter Hullermann's case.

Reverend Hullermann was first removed from his Essen, Germany congregation in 1979 after multiple accusations of molesting young boys. The New York Times reports that then the future Pope approved sending Hullermann to therapy in 1980 to overcome his pedophilia. Next, Ratzinger was reportedly copied on a memo that informed him that Reverend Hullermann would be transferred to another parish just days after beginning that psychiatric treatment. Hullermann was later convicted of molesting more boys at another parish and removed from his duties.