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CNN: SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
What the Pope Knew
Aired September 25, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TEXT: The following contains graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN HOST (voice-over): 2008. A trip that made history. The new pope's first visit to the United States. His first chance to directly address American Catholics about the sex abuse scandal enveloping their church.
POPE BENDICT XVI: No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): For the first time ever, a pope met directly with victims of abuse.
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: He became the first pope to apologize for the sex abuse crisis in his own voice. He became the first pope to issue an entire document devoted to the sex abuse crisis. And on and on.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): But behind the public apologies and historic meetings is a darker, more complicated story.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew.
ALLEN: I think the frustratingly complex answer is that Pope Benedict XVI is both part of the problem and part of the solution on the sex abuse issue.
DAVID GIBSON, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Joseph Ratzinger was not and is not the villain of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in no way, shape, or form. And yet, he's not the hero, either. He was part of a culture.
THUCHMAN (voice-over): David Gibson is a religion reporter and biographer of the Pope.
GIBSON: The power, the authority, under church's -- the church's canon law was always in his hands to do something. But he always took the slower route, he always took the stalling tactic. That's something I think people still want him to answer for. Why? Why didn't he do more?
TUCHMAN (on camera): For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis. But critics say and documents show that Pope Benedict's history of dealing with sexual abuse was very troubling. Part of a culture of foot-dragging and, perhaps, obstruction.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): That history begins in Germany in the small town of Grafing. In 1986, the parish priest, Peter Hullermann, was convicted of sexually abusing children. But as shocking as the abuse itself was this -- Hullermann had molested children before, and church officials knew it.
WILFRIED FESSELMANN, ABUSE VICTIM (through translator): I was an altar boy in the church that it happened in. And I went to mass two to three times a week.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): At this church in Essen, Germany, Wilfried Fesselmann says Hullermann abused him seven years before he was arrested in Grafing. Fesselmann was just 11 years old.
FESSELMANN (through translator): He gave me something to drink, and I had to drink it, and noticed that I started feeling weird. Then, he took off his clothes, told me to take off mine. And then we touched each other, and I had to perform oral sex.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Hullermann was transferred to Munich for therapy. His psychiatrist warned the church he should never be allowed to work with children again. But a few weeks after the transfer, Hullermann was placed in a new, unsuspecting parish.
Who oversaw the transfer of a known child molester to the new church? The man known today as Pope Benedict, then known as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Archbishop of Munich.
FESSELMANN (through translator): Munich should have suspended him in 1980. Mr. Ratzinger or whoever should have made sure he was no longer involved in the church. Should have cut him off. This would have saved a lot of victims from him.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Vatican admits Cardinal Ratzinger approved Hullermann's transfer into his diocese in Munich, but says it was Ratzinger's deputy who placed the pedophile priest in a new parish. A decision the Vatican says Ratzinger was unaware of.
MONSIGNOR CHARLES SCICLUNA, PROMOTER OF JUSTICE, VATICAN: Effective changes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's prosecutor, worked with the pope for years on sex abuse cases. When he sat down with me at the Vatican, it was his first ever television interview on the pope's record.
SCICLUNA: Now, we're talking about a big, huge diocese with a minimum of 1,000 priests. The Archbishop of Munich and Freising needs a delegate, and he would then delegate his decisions and the follow-up to other people.
TUCHMAN (on camera): That's totally understandable. But of those 1,000, I would bet you there are not that many sexual molesters. And it's probably pretty easy --
SCICLUNA: Let's hope not.
TUCHMAN: That's right. And it's probably pretty easy to keep track of sexual molesters. And my question for you is, maybe it's possible that, could Cardinal Ratzinger have done a better job keeping track of the sexual molesters?
SCICLUNA: Knowing Cardinal Ratzinger, when he delegates something, then you feel that you are responsible. Now, it is very sad, it is very sad, once you delegate things to people and they put you down? What do you do? You are frustrated.
GIBSON: If Cardinal Ratzinger in Munich did not know about Father Peter Hullermann, he should have. That's one of the things that an archbishop does. You always know where your priests are. He wasn't minding the store.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Hullermann was finally exposed in 2006. Not by the church, but by Wilfried Fesselmann, after undergoing therapy.
FESSELMANN (through translator): I googled him and immediately found his name and saw that he was working with kids again. I was totally shocked and astonished how this could happen.
TUCHMAN (voice-over) The Vatican says when Ratzinger moved on from his post in Munich, he also left the Hullermann problem behind.
SCICLUNA: It is only appropriate that once you have a successor in place, the responsibility is his.
GIBSON: Where was Benedict all these years when this priest was abusing other kids? Why didn't he say something? As the sexual abuse scandal exploded into the 80s and into the 90s, didn't he ever check back and sort of say, "You know, that guy, Father Peter Hullermann, maybe you should check and see where he's at."
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The pope himself has never addressed the issue.
GIBSON: How many other abusive priests may have come under his jurisdiction while he was in Munich as archbishop? We don't know.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): After five years as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger was tapped for a major promotion to a position at the Vatican, where he would become directly involved with some of the most notorious sex abuse cases in the United States.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew. TUCHMAN (voice-over): At a lakeside retreat in northern Wisconsin.
TERRY KOHUT, ABUSE VICTIM: Come.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Terry Kohut tries to escape his past. It isn't easy. Fifty years ago, when he was just 10 years old, Terry, who is deaf, was sent to the St. Johns School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What happened there to Terry and up to 200 other deaf boys is now central to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. And to the question of what Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, knew about it all.
Terry Kohut has never spoken publicly about the horrors he endured at St. Johns. Until now.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What did he do to you?
KOHUT (through translator): And then it was that afternoon, I went into his office. The door was closed. And Father Murphy said, "Take your pants down."
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Father Lawrence Murphy was the headmaster and priest at St. John's for more than two decades. He was a charismatic fund-raiser and respected church leader. But Father Murphy has also been identified by dozens of deaf men who say he raped and sexually abused them as children for years.
KOHUT (through translator): And Father Murphy told me to go to bed. And so, I went to bed with my pants around my ankles still. And went to bed. Lied down in bed. And then, he touched me.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Father Murphy's abuse would come to the direct attention of Cardinal Ratzinger, but his handling of the case would stun Murphy's victims.
GIBSON: I think what the Murphy case shows is the deference that Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict would always give to the priest.
JEFF ANDERSON, ATTORNEY: What actually happens in court --
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Today, Terry Kohut is suing the Vatican for what Father Murphy did to him at St. John's. His lawsuit is the first to ever specifically name Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. Until now, Terry Kohut has been anonymous, named only as John Doe 16. In this exclusive interview with CNN, he is going public.
KOHUT (through translator): Yes, I was confused as to why it was happening. I mean, he was a priest. You know, I was trying to figure out what -- I mean, I can't believe a priest would do that.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): From 1950 to 1974, Father Murphy abused as many as 200 deaf boys, according to court documents.
TUCHMAN (on camera): This was the St. John's School for the Deaf. It's now a different school. But for many people who were voiceless and vulnerable children, it remains a frightening place, because it's the place where they were molested and sometimes raped by Father Lawrence Murphy.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The priest is believed to have picked out victims who were especially vulnerable, or had been through tragedy already in their young lives. Terry Kohut fit that pattern.
KOHUT (through translator): My brother was electrocuted. Died when I was 10. And when I was 11, my Father hung himself. And at 12 my favorite dog died, and it tore me up. I saw Father Murphy, and I thought that he could be a second father. But, to my shock, he took advantage of that.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Carl Nelson and Steven Geier were at St. John's with Terry Kohut. They say they were also molested by Father Murphy.
STEVEN GEIER, ABUSE VICTIM (through translator): It wasn't easy living in the dorm. There were no parents, no police. We were stuck. It was like prison. You can't get out.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Carl Nelson had been a Lutheran, but Father Murphy helped him convert to Catholicism, and then began visiting him at night in bed.
CARL NELSON, ABUSE VICTIM (through translator): I was just a small kid. And he was such a big, strong man. What could I do?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): On numerous occasions, the boys tried to tell people about what was going on. Family members, other priests. No one believed them. Carl Nelson said one group of boys actually went to the Milwaukee police begging for help, but the police took them back to Father Murphy.
NELSON (through translator): We talked to the police. We told them our story. But they believed him. They believed Father Murphy, not us.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The boys from the school even put out their own fliers. After years of allegations and threats of lawsuits, local bishops finally moved Father Murphy in 1974 to remote northern Wisconsin. There, more reports of abuse surfaced.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Tell me why, Terry, you've decided to file suit. What do you want to see happen?
KOHUT (through translator): I want the see the Vatican -- because I've been waiting for all these years for them to excommunicate, defrock Father Murphy, but they haven't.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In 1995, Terry Kohut began writing letters about what happened to him.
TUCHMAN (on camera): You wrote an amazing letter to Father Murphy in 1995. I want to read part of it.
"Jesus on the cross on the wall saw you come in every night to molest us. He must have been shocked and grieved every time. I hope he cried like we did, because we were innocent children." TUCHMAN (voice-over): Terry Kohut sent copies of his letter to the Vatican, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The head of that office was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope.
Coming up, see what the pope knew, and what he did about Father Murphy.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the mid 1990s, allegations of rape and sex abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's school in Milwaukee came to the attention of the Vatican. The trail of documents unearthed in the Murphy case goes right to the top of the Vatican, including Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger.
ANDERSON: As long as this work needs to be done, I feel blessed to have the chance to do it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson is the lead lawyer in Terry Kohut's lawsuit against the Vatican and against Pope Benedict. Anderson has filed hundreds of lawsuits for sexual abuse victims of priests and has obtained a massive trove of internal Vatican documents to build his case against the pope.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the case of Father Murphy?
ANDERSON: Well, we know the letters went to his secretary, Bertone, and we know, thus, that Ratzinger was directly involved. Not just because it was addressed to him, but because it was handled by his secretary and in his department under his authority and control.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sex abuse cases were not then Joseph Ratzinger's primary responsibility as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF. But a handful of cases, like the Murphy case, did come to his direct attention. These are the cases that give us the clearest look at what the pope knew.
It is through rarely-seen internal Vatican documents obtained by CNN that the true story is revealed. On July 17, 1996, the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Reverend Rembert Weakland, wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger, describing Father Murphy's abuse and his use of the confessional to solicit sinful actions. Reverend Weakland asked Cardinal Ratzinger how to proceed.
It would take eight months and two more letters to the Vatican before he heard back. Cardinal Ratzinger's secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, wrote back to Weakland, telling him to proceed with a secret church trial.
Then, Father Murphy himself wrote a personal letter to Cardinal Ratzinger saying he was 72 years old and sick. He wrote, "I have repented of any of my past transgressions, and I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood."
After Father Murphy's personal letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, something seemed to change. The letters from Rome struck a different chord, seemingly sympathetic to the molesting priest. Cardinal Ratzinger's secretary wrote to Archbishop Weakland asking him to give careful consideration to pastoral measures, counseling and supervision, instead of a trial. Weakland disagreed.
In May of 1998, he flew from Wisconsin to Rome to meet with Cardinal Ratzinger's team. Notes from the archdiocese's log of that meeting state, "It became clear that the Congregation was not encouraging us to proceed with any formal dismissal."
Finally, on August 19, 1998, Archbishop Weakland agreed with the CDF's suggestion to put together a pastoral plan, and he stopped the trial. That meant Father Murphy would remain a priest for the rest of his life.
TUCHMAN (on camera): On August 21, 1998, Father Murphy died. Despite what he did with the deaf children, despite the lives he ruined, he was never defrocked. He was buried right here, with the full dignity and honors of a Holy Roman Catholic Priest in good standing.
SCICLUNA: And I got to travel, which I enjoyed very much.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Vatican's prosecutor, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, says he understand the frustration and anger in the Murphy case.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Should Father Murphy have been allowed to die a priest?
SCICLUNA: If the case would have been decided today, with the knowledge we have, the judgment may have been different. But we're talking about human judgment here. And so --
TUCHMAN: Was it faulty human judgment by the cardinal, though?
SCICLUNA: I wouldn't say faulty, because it is a judgment that took care of reparation, of scandal in the sense that it expected a public admission of guilt. And it also ensured that Father Murphy be kept in a ministry which did not constitute a risk.
TUCHMAN: Wasn't that a mistake back then? Is that something that would happen today?
SCICLUNA: No, I wouldn't call it a mistake. I would call it a different take on a very difficult case.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): But Terry Kohut's attorney sees it much differently. ANDERSON: That process is all designed to do one thing. That is to avoid scandal.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What would you say to the pope if he was sitting across from you?
KOHUT (through translator): I would tell him why. I would ask him why. "Why didn't you stop -- why did you stop that trial? Why did you give pity to Father Murphy? What about me, what about the 200 other boys?"
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Coming up, another case of a pedophile priest, with Cardinal Ratzinger's signature.
TEXT: What the Pope Knew.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Time for your top stories.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Stephen Kiesle.
STEPHEN KIESLE, CONVICTED PEDOPHILE: With these younger girls, sometimes I didn't differentiate them from boys.
TUCHMAN: A twice convicted pedophile.
KIESLE: That was a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may have touched the younger girls in the breast area.
TUCHMAN: For nearly a decade after his first after for abusing children, he remained an ordained Catholic priest.
KATHIE THOMPSON, ABUSE VICTIM: He wore tennis shoes, but he had on the shirt with the full collar and full beard and kind of straggly hair and he's just, you know, come across this field, (INAUDIBLE) priest.
TUCHMAN (on camera): It was early 1970s here in St. Joseph church and school, at town of Pinole, California, where Kiesle was so popular with the kids, he was called the pied piper, shattered the innocence of many of those children. Children like Kathie Thompson who says she was shake in fear when Kiesle would close in on her.
THOMPSON: He liked to kiss on the lips and with his tongue. He liked to put his hand up your skirt. And for some people he tickled, for me he pinched.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): He pleaded no contest in 1978 to molesting boys here at Our Lady of the Rosary near Oakland, and was sentenced to three years probation. He took a leave of absence from the church, attended counseling and asked the church permission to leave the priesthood.
(on camera): It seemed to be an open and shut case for defrocking, a priest already convicted of pedophilia in a well publicized trial wanted to be immediately released from his priestly duties. But the Vatican did not get rid of the molester, until six years later.
The tortured process is documented in a revealing series of letters between Kiesle's bishop, John Cummins, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF, in Rome. In June of 1981, Cummins requested Kiesle be defrocked because of his taking sexual liberties with boys ages 11 to 13. November 1981, the CDF requests more information. A week later, Cardinal Ratzinger takes over the CDF.
February 1982, Cummins warns Ratzinger of a scandal. March 1982, the CDF responds, nothing to report. December 1982, Cummins writes again. October 1992, the CDF, again nothing to report.
Father Thomas Doyle, a former church insider, is now a victims' advocate.
FATHER THOMAS DOYLE, PLAINTIFF'S CONSULTANT: This seemed to be a key, crucial burning issue for Bishop Cummins at the time -- the fact that he continued to send letters over, and that isn't to say how many phone calls did he -- did he make.
TUCHMAN: Throughout the entire process, Kiesle remained a priest, but was forbidden to work in a parish, a move that may have protected children, but did not reduce the bishop's zeal to formally remove Kiesle from the church. Finally, after four years of delay, a response from Ratzinger, his decision: to delay even more. Ratzinger's letter suggested "very careful consideration which necessitates a longer period of time."
And while he acknowledged the "grave significance" of the case, Ratzinger said it was also necessary to "consider the good of the universal church."
THOMPSON: I'm devastated by him. I can't believe that he would let that go and think for the better of the church, let's not do this. What about the better of the kids? He's just as guilty as Kiesle, just as guilty.
TUCHMAN: Kiesle would remain a priest for another year and a half, before Ratzinger would allow him to leave the priesthood.
Why did it take so long? The Vatican says Ratzinger's hands were tied because of a blanket order from Pope John Paul II that no priest under 40 could be defrocked. Kiesle was 38.
DOYLE: He was not old enough to satisfy the Pope's policy at that time. And so, they saw that as more important than the urgency of the situation, which was getting rid of, or at least defrocking a known serial sexual abuser.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Interesting how people, the victims and our viewers, could think, this is just like thinking from people who are totally out of touch.
MONSIGNOR CHARLES SCICLUNA, PROMOTER OF JUSTICE, VATICAN: We're not en masse. We're not en masse.
TUCHMAN: But that's what it sounds like.
SCICLUNA: Yes, I understand. But
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Monsignor Scicluna says Kiesle could have been defrocked through a church trial, a process that would have taken years.
SCICLUNA: There was a system -- there was a procedure whereby a person could be reduced to the lay status (ph) or layasized. And it was a penal trial.
So, the procedure was there, it was the choice of the bishop on the local level. Now, bishops, I understand, want a quick way out and I understand that time is of the essence in these things.
Today, we have a system whereby these requests are sent to Holy Father irrespective of the age of the priest requesting. So, we have gone forward and I'm very grateful for that.
TUCHMAN: Kiesle was layasized, a Vatican's term for defrocking on February 13th, 1987, the day before his 40th birthday. Today, Kiesle is a registered sex offender. He's career as a pedophile did not end in the church. He molested a girl in 1995, and he's now out of prison after being sentenced to six years.
I found him in the parking garage of his condominium complex in northern California where he lives with his wife. I wanted to ask him about his past.
(on camera): Sir, how do you feel that the Vatican did not give you approval to leave the priesthood?
(voice-over): "It was all a long time ago," he told me. But it seems like just yesterday for Kathie Thompson.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What would you say to him?
THOMPSON: Rot in hell and why don't you go there now?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Coming up: while Cardinal Ratzinger left abusive priests in the church, you might be surprised at the kind of priest he did target.
FATHER THOMAS J. REESE, S.J., CATHOLIC CHURCH: The body of Christ. The body of Christ. (END VIDEOTAPE)
REESE: This is the bread come down from heaven and this is the cup of everlasting life.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Father Thomas Reese is the kind of Cardinal Ratzinger saw is a threat to the church.
REESE: The body of Christ.
TUCHMAN: His crime? Publishing a magazine.
REESE: In 1998, I became editor-in-chief of "America" magazine, which is the national Catholic weekly magazine published by Jesuits in the United States, and I tried to encourage a conversation, a dialogue, a debate in the magazine about issues facing the church.
TUCHMAN: Among the topics: gay marriage and abortion rights -- issues that were repellent to the conservative cardinal who saw himself as the guardian of church doctrine.
REESE: I knew that some of the issues that we published in "America" were controversial. But I always made sure that we had people who supported the Vatican line. For example, I even had a couple of articles by Cardinal Ratzinger himself.
TUCHMAN: Despite that, publishing views that dissented from church beliefs became grounds for firing in Cardinal Ratzinger's mind.
REESE: It was public knowledge that Cardinal Ratzinger asked that I be removed.
DAVID GIBSON, AUTHOR, "THE RULE OF BENEDICT": Open debate is just not something that Joseph Ratzinger was comfortable with. He was so concerned that the church have a unified front and everybody knew where the church stood, and if you weren't on board with that, then you were -- out.
TUCHMAN: Cardinal Ratzinger's campaign against priests who stray from strict church doctrine was so aggressive that the press dubbed "God's Rottweiler."
Vatican experts say Ratzinger silenced, censored or, otherwise, punished dozens of theologians during his reign at CDF?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: He was easily the most polarizing figure in the Catholic universe. I think Catholic conservatives thought of him as their champion. And for Catholic liberals, this guy was the Darth Vader of the Catholic world.
TUCHMAN: Cardinal Ratzinger was passionate about stamping out dissent. But there was never any public indication he was passionate about getting rid of pedophile priests.
DOYLE: I've seen evidence of this in my life as a cleric, that the Vatican is much more interested in how you think rather than how you act. That's what they're more concerned about. They're obsessed with that.
TUCHMAN: For Ratzinger, the cure to the sexual abuse crisis was to faithfully follow strict church doctrine.
GIBSON: So, for him, tightening up on orthodoxy and a proper spirituality would necessarily be the first step in curing things like sexual license and sexual abuse by priests.
REESE: Father, hear the prayers of the families you have gathered here before you.
TUCHMAN: So, Father Reese was seen as a threat to the church and Ratzinger moved forcefully against him.
However, for a pedophile priest, it would be a different story.
(on camera): In 1989, Bishop Daniel Ryan drove about 45 minutes north of hi diocese office in Springfield, Illinois, to the town of Lincoln. He came here to Lincoln to visit one of his priests -- a priest who was living here in a prison.
(voice-over): In 1985, Father Alvin Campbell pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault on boys as young as 11 years old. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Matt McCormick was one of the children Campbell abused.
MATT MCCORMICK, ABUSE VICTIM: I don't come by the school, and I don't come by the church.
TUCHMAN: Starting in seventh grade, Campbell molested McCormick in the church's school, the rectory, and even here.
(on camera): This is the confessional you were in?
MCCORMICK: This is the confessional. And he would sit there.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Campbell was sent to prison, but he was still a priest. That's why Bishop Ryan had come to visit him, to try to convince him to voluntarily leave the priesthood. Campbell refused.
So, Ryan turned to Rome for help. He sent copies of Campbell's indictments, spelling out in graphic detail what Campbell had done to his victims, and asked Joseph Ratzinger to defrock Campbell.
Ratzinger's answer? No. "The petition in question cannot be admitted. And as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself, which is called for by the current norms."
(on camera): Incredibly, what Cardinal Ratzinger was saying was that he could not agree to defrock a priest, even a convicted child molester, without that priest's permission.
(voice-over): He showed the letter to Matt McCormick, it was the first time he had seen this.
MCCORMICK: I guess I'm going to have to read this again.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What's the first thing you would say to Pope Benedict if you were face to face with him?
MCCORMICK: Well, what would I say to him? I'd say that what you've done is created an environment for pedophiles and molesters of children to exist. And the violation of these children falls on your shoulders.
TUCHMAN: Monsignor, do you see how it sounds so ridiculous, under our Canon Law, unless he requests it, you can't defrock him?
SCICLUNA: It would sound ridiculous if you forget the next paragraph that says there is a way of reducing him to the lay state and it is by church trial.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Ratzinger's letter does say the bishop can avoid responsibility for keeping Campbell by putting him through a church trial. But, again, that would take years and Campbell had already been convicted in a criminal trial. Scicluna admits the process needed changing.
SCICLUNA: I think that these cases certainly taught Cardinal Ratzinger and his collaborators that something needed to be done and something has been done. Today, Canon Law has a different scenario that this thing would not happen under today's Canon Law. And that is also the merit of Cardinal Ratzinger who's Pope Benedict XVI today.
TUCHMAN: Campbell would finally be defrocked three years later after he finally agreed to request it himself.
After bouts with depression, alcohol and drugs, McCormick today is happily married with a daughter -- and a wife who gave up on the church.
BETH MCCORMICK, MATT'S WIFE: We both converted to Lutheranism because of this. I don't -- personally, I don't have faith in the Catholic Church whatsoever at all.
TUCHMAN: Coming up, a change in attitude?
ALLEN: A failure in the Campbell case which is being left and I think rightly so at the feet of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the very problem that Cardinal Ratzinger later on in his career, who went to John Paul II to resolve.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TUCHMAN (voice-over): By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church. But Pope John Paul had not addressed the crisis. Priests in the U.S. were being put on trial for abuse, even rape.
Lawsuits against the church were piling up. One diocese in Texas was forced to pay millions to victims.
GIBSON: The era of denial was clearly over. Ratzinger finally convinced his boss that we've got to start doing something. He knew the media scandal was coming down.
TUCHMAN: The Pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly.
John Allen believes Ratzinger underwent a kind of conversion.
ALLEN: Reading those case files with the detailed notes they contained about the testimony of victims over and over again convinced him this wasn't just about smoke, that there was genuine fire here. And from 2001 forward, the Congregation from the Doctrine of the Faith became the beachhead for the Vatican for an aggressive response to the crisis.
TUCHMAN: Still, Ratzinger seemed defensive to the public. In 2002, he told reporters that the U.S. media had exaggerated the crisis. He said, "One comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church."
But behind the scenes at the Vatican, Cardinal Ratzinger was making waves. The new rules gave him the power to jumpstart the process for defrocking priests.
ALLEN: They began to process hundreds and hundreds of cases from around the world at a pace that by Vatican standards is absolutely astonishing, because the typical working philosophy in the Vatican is, talk to me on Wednesday and I'll get back to you in 300 years.
GIBSON: He became increasingly active behind the scenes, even though he wouldn't push the envelopes, even though he wouldn't cross his superiors, he began pushing and pushing and pushing.
TUCHMAN: One battle he pushed and eventually won was against the notorious Reverend Marcial Maciel Dellogado, a powerful Mexican priest and protege of John Paul, who was accused of molesting young seminarians. The case was laying dormant for years. But in 2004, Ratzinger reopened the case, and eventually removed Maciel from priestly duties. As Pope, he would take control of Maciel's powerful religious order, the Legionaries of Christ.
ALLEN: I think the bottom line is this: however bad you think the Vatican's response to this crisis has been, it would have been infinitely worse were it not for the personal leadership of Pope Benedict XVI. TUCHMAN: Once Ratzinger became Pope Benedict, there were more unprecedented acts -- meetings with victims of abuse, public apologies, and, finally, an acknowledgement that the crisis did not come from enemies of the church on the outside, but was, quote, "born from the sin within the church."
(on camera): Is it possible that Cardinal Ratzinger could have been more flexible back the, perhaps more creative which would have alleviated a lot of the horrors that these victims have gone through for many years?
SCICLUNA: Cardinal Ratzinger was creative when he expressed his frustration with the Canon Law, and ultimately went to John Paul II and asked for special faculties or permissions.
TUCHMAN: So, is it fair to -- is it fair to say that Cardinal Ratzinger was frustrated that he couldn't do more with these victims and getting rid of these bad priests?
SCICLUNA: I think that we have -- we have it on record that he was frustrated, yes. Yes.
TUCHMAN: While the Pope has evolved and taken some strong measures to deal with the crisis, there is unfinished business that still haunts the victims of pedophile priests, and that is: what about the bishops, the bishops who covered up priestly abuse and moved those priests from parish to parish?
DOYLE: We have been trying and trying and trying to do something about the bishops who have covered up, who have lied about this, who have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars of the faithful's money to stonewall it, you know, through the courts. They've done nothing about these bishops.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Bishops like Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who covered up the crimes of priest who assaulted dozens of children. He eventually was forced to resign, only to end up as a cardinal in Rome.
GIBSON: He has this grand title, great apartment and real power and real authority in the Vatican, and yet, he is one of the most notorious bishops from this whole era of scandal.
TUCHMAN: Gibson believes the Pope will never publicly rebuke the bishops.
GIBSON: He doesn't want to open up that can of worms because he doesn't want to cause difficulties for his brother bishops. The bishops of the church are his colleagues -- that is his circle.
TUCHMAN (on camera): And there is more unfinished business. Even now, it's hard to believe, but there are priests accused of abuse hiding in plain sight in the church.
(voice-over): In this town in southern India lives a priest wanted by a U.S. prosecutor. CNN's Liz Neisloss tracked him down. Joseph Jeyapaul has been accused of molesting two girls when he was a priest in Minnesota. He fled the country, ending up here in the diocese of Ootacamund.
Jeyapaul's U.S. bishop has written the Pope's old agency, the CDF, repeatedly about the abuse, even saying a U.S. county attorney wants to extradite him. Yet, to this day, six years after he was first accused, Father Jeyapaul is still a priest. He maintains he's innocent.
FATHER JOSEPH JEYAPAUL, CATHOLIC CHURCH: It is a lie. It's totally a lie.
TUCHMAN: And says the victims are out for cash.
JEYAPAUL: I think there may be a motive to get money from the diocese.
TUCHMAN: Officials in the local diocese say Jeyapaul has been suspended, but he remains free until he's extradited, which U.S. authorities say could take years.
BISHOP: These guys can go from one country to another country and there's no universal database that says, beep, beep, beep, this guy has a record. This guy is a problem.
TUCHMAN: Jeyapaul is only one of several accused priests still sheltered by the church. Remember, Peter Hullermann, the German pedophile priest overseen by Cardinal Ratzinger in Munich? Fourteen years after his conviction, he was still a priest in a town of Bad Tolz in Germany, until the church finally suspended him last spring.
To date, Pope Benedict has never personally addressed his role in the Hullermann case, or why Hullermann remained a priest for so long.
ALLEN: The Hullermann case is a disgrace from the beginning to the end. But as long as the impression is, that on the Hullermann case, you know, the message is stonewalling and denial, I think it's going to be much more difficult for the Pope or his apologists to convince the rest of the world that he's on the side of the angels on the sex abuse issue.
TUCHMAN: To Vatican insiders, Pope Benedict may stand as a reformer -- the church official who did more than anyone to address the crisis. But to many victims, ordinary Catholics, and the public at large, it's not nearly enough.
The unfinished business of the sexual abuse scandal, not only weakens the Pope's credibility, but it may cause the very thing he devoted his life to preventing: Catholics straying from the faith.
GIBSON: If the church leaders seem to have no credibility, people aren't going to listen to them. They're going to wind up doing what Cardinal Ratzinger feared most. They're just going to go their own way, believe what they want to believe. In the end, that could be the worst scenario ever, that's the nightmare for Joseph Ratzinger, and to a degree because of his track record, that could come true.