Page last updated at 08:11 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Wisconsin's Catholic child abuse anguish

By Matthew Price
BBC News, Milwaukee

Arthur Budzinski (circled left) at a Church service with Fr Murphy (right)
A Budzinski family photograph shows the young Arthur (circled left) attending a funeral with Fr Murphy (right)

What must it feel like to have lost 50 years of your life? For that is what 61-year old Arthur Budzinski has endured.

Five long decades of personal pain.

And he has to rely on others to speak of his anguish.

The Pope is accepting some resignations from some bishops who did what he did
Professor Daniel Maguire
Milwaukee theology lecturer

It is made worse by the fact that no-one has been held to account for the sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child while at the Roman Catholic St John's School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin.

That is despite the fact that as a youngster he told adults around him what was happening. Despite the fact that later - as an adult himself - he has continued to fight for justice. All to no avail.

Arthur and around 200 other boys are said to have been sexually abused at the school by Father Lawrence Murphy, a Catholic priest.

He says he and others told members of the clergy back then that they were being watched, touched and exploited by Fr Murphy.

No-one listened.

'Ignoble attacks'

Even when - decades later - the archbishop here did send a letter to the Vatican informing senior clergy about Fr Murphy, nothing was done.

Arthur Budzinski waits before a news conference in in St Francis, Wisconsin, 25 March
Arthur Budzinski is one of some 200 boys said to have been abused

The Vatican department tasked with looking into such abuses was headed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - now, Pope Benedict XVI.

The Vatican insists there was no cover-up. It has accused the media and others of an "ignoble attack" on the Pope.

Yet what of the "ignoble attack" on Arthur Budzinski?

His daughter Gigi sits by his side as he goes through the black and white photos of his days back at St John's. She translates Arthur's sign language.

"It goes all the way up to him," she says. "The Pope knew for many, many years. He knew."

It is an allegation the Vatican firmly denies. It is, however, an allegation that is becoming harder to ignore.

'Reeking of hypocrisy'

A few miles away, Professor Daniel Maguire is wrapped up against the unseasonably cold wind chill. A dark blue woollen hat, green mittens, a smart beige three quarter-length overcoat.

Victim Arthur Budzinski says Vatican members knew about the scandal

A former priest, the professor lectures in moral theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

The latest allegations, centred around the events at St John's, are "the clearest example yet of the cover-up of crimes by Church authorities and colluding local law enforcement officers", he says.

The picture he paints is of an old boys' network, closing in to protect the group and its members.

For that is what the victims of paedophilia in the Catholic Church say they have been up against. They feel the Catholic Church has acted like a powerful group inclined to protect its own interests with scant regard for the victims.

The Vatican says things have changed - the Pope has pledged a policy of zero tolerance of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

That is welcome, of course, but it is hardly justice for men like Arthur Budzinsky.

And for critics like Professor Maguire, the whole sordid affair reeks of hypocrisy: "The Pope is accepting some resignations from some bishops who did what he did, ie allowing the transfer of sexual predators to other venues, failing to report crimes to the appropriate authority, seeing the crimes as public relations embarrassments, to the neglect of both law and the victims."

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