By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican defended a decision not to laicize a Wisconsin priest who sexually abused deaf children, despite the recommendation of his bishop that he be removed from the priesthood.
In a statement responding to a report in the New York Times, the Vatican said that by the time it learned of the case in the late 1990s, the priest was elderly and in poor health. The Vatican eventually suggested that the priest continue to be restricted in ministry instead of laicized, and he died four months later, the Vatican said.
The Vatican decision not to proceed to a church trial and possible laicization came after the priest wrote a personal appeal to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who was head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation at the time, the Times article said.
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