The ongoing PR disaster that is the current revelations about the pedophile priests cover up by the Catholic Church has now drawn Ratzinger even more into the frame.
The BBC is reporting on a letter delaying action on a priest in America in 1985, and signed by then Cardinal Ratzinger. The first evidence of direct involvement by Ratzinger.
According to the BBC, in 1978 a catholic priest Stephen Kiesle was sentenced to three years of probation for lewd conduct with two young boys in San Francisco. The Oakland diocese had recommended Kiesle's removal in 1981 but that that did not happen until 1987.
Cardinal Ratzinger took over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases, in 1981.
So the diocese asked for the Kiesle to be defrocked in 1981. In 1985 Ratzinger wrote to the diocese:
Most Excellent Bishop
Having received your letter of September 13 of this year, regarding the matter of the removal from all priestly burdens pertaining to Rev Stephen Miller Kiesle in your diocese, it is my duty to share with you the following:
This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favour of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ's faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.
It is necessary for this Congregation to submit incidents of this sort to very careful consideration, which necessitates a longer period of time.
In the meantime your Excellency must not fail to provide the petitioner with as much paternal care as possible and in addition to explain to same the rationale of this court, which is accustomed to proceed keeping the common good especially before its eyes.
Let me take this occasion to convey sentiments of the highest regard always to you.
Your most Reverend Excellency
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
So . . , like . . , 'we think the arguments are grave, but we need more time, think about how the Church would look if we defrocked him, consider the impact on him, and be sure to minister to him'.
Nothing about protecting the flock that placed their trust in the Church and who may be in harms way.
Now the Church claims that this must be taken in context of a long series of correspondence on this matter between the Vatican and the diocese, and this is true. There may be other letters laying out protections for the flock, but if there are, surely the Vatican could release them?