Should the Vatican have acted faster? Yes. Should the accused priest have been laicized? In all probability, Yes again. Nevertheless, before assigning all blame to the Vatican, consider these factors:1. The allegations of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy began in 1955 and continued in 1974, according to the Times account. The Vatican was first notified in 1996: 40 years after Church officials in Wisconsin were first made aware of the problem. Local Church leaders could have taken action in the 1950s. They didn't.
4. Having called the Vatican's attention to Murphy's case, Archbishop Weakland apparently wanted an immediate response, and was unhappy that the CDF took 8 months to respond. But again, the Milwaukee archdiocese had waited decades to take this action. Because the Milwaukee archdiocese had waited so long to take action, the canonical statute of limitations had become an important factor in the Vatican's decision to advise against an ecclesiastical trial.
His bottom line:
This is a story about the abject failure of the Milwaukee archdiocese to discipline a dangerous priest, and the tardy effort by Archbishop Weakland--who would soon become the subject of a major scandal himself--to shift responsibility to Rome.