Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter vigil mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican, late 03 April 2010. EPA/GIUSEPPE GIGLIA +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Now here’s a peculiar
story which is doing the rounds. The current cycle of scandal stories began
with an attempt to link Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger with the reassignment of a
known paedophile priest when he was in Munich. However, with 1,000 priests in
the archdiocese he may not have known about this. And his vicar-general at the
time, Gerhard Gruber, said that he was
to blame for the error.

But he was
just a scapegoat to protect his boss, is the latest scoop from Der Spiegel. The
German magazine says that he was browbeaten and bullied into taking the rap for
the Pope. It gives times and places where this plan was hatched.

On
the morning of March 12, while the press office was busy drafting a statement
in which Gruber was given the full blame for H.’s appointment to serve as a
pastor, and that included Gruber’s personal apology, a church official was
badgering the retired priest on the phone.

But
Gruber, who felt put under pressure, later confided in theologian friends. He
told them that he had been emphatically “asked” to assume full
responsibility for the affair, and that church officials had promptly faxed him
a copy of the statement and instructed him to make any changes he deemed
necessary.

What is the source for
this story? Has Fr Gruber spoken to Der Spiegel? No, as a matter of fact. Has
Fr Gruber written to Der Spiegel? No. Has anyone in the Archdiocesan offices
spoken on the record or off the record to Der Spiegel, other than to deny the story? Well, actually not.

So where does the story
come from? it was gossip from those “theologian
friends”. Fr Gruber has gone on a trip and never said one word to Der Spiegel. .

Anyone willing to bet that the “theologian
friends” were the same ones who helped Der Spiegel to write its vicious April 6
article, “Helpless in the Vatican: The Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI”? Der
Spiegel’s scoop is tabloid trash.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.