The Vatican is under fire for issuing statements that conflict with facts in a case involving a child molesting priest and the future Pope Benedict XVI in Germany in the 80's. Things aren't looking good for the Pope these days.

The Times lays out what may be a case of kiddie-toucher hot potato, where the blame for allowing the priest, Rev. Peter Hullermann, to return to his parish is being thrown onto the Pope's chief deputy, Rev. Gerhard Gruber.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish."

And were they surprised by this?!

An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger's deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest's reassignment."

After Hullermann was busted again, another priest suggested in a letter that he teach "at a girls' school" instead. Hullermann died two years ago.

This latest scandal has Catholic blogger Andrew Sullivan riled up. After reflecting perhaps a little too long on his own teenage masturbation, Sullivan explains why Catholic priests seem to have a penchant for molesting young boys, and calls for the resignation of the Pope. He makes some good points. And he even manages to drag Michael Jackson into it! This has the beginning of a bad joke: A priest, Macaulay Culkin, and Michael Jackson walk into a bar

The Hullermann scandal is the last thing the Vatican wants right now. Last week, the Pope wrote a letter to Irish Catholics apologizing for another molestation scandal there, but stood behind the secrecy of internal investigations, angering many in the church. Another Times article today suggests the Pope may have no choice but to shake things up and come clean. These are dark days in Rome, and things could soon get a whole lot worse.

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