Posted by | April 9, 2010 22:00 | Filed under: Top Stories

Pope Benedict XVI was hesitant to take action against a priest with a record of molesting young boys for the “good of the universal church,” according to a letter with his signature from 1985.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican’s insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanors involving child molestation in 1978.

The Vatican has confirmed the future Pope’s signature on the letter, and that such a letter was typical in such cases.

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ’-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the “good of the universal church” and the “detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly considering the young age.” Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years’ probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

Kiesle was finally laicized in 1987.

Kiesle, who married after leaving the priesthood, was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations.

He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Kiesle, now 63 and a registered sex offender, lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan’s Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him for comment.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.