Press Release: Documents Reveal Ratzinger’s Involvement in Refusal to Defrock California priest in 1985

Jeff Anderson & Associates

Press Release


For Immediate Release

Friday, April 9, 2010


Vatican knew of pedophile priest convicted of molesting children in 1981.


Clergy sex abuse attorney Jeff Anderson says documents refute Pope’s claims of having no role in the blocking of the removal of pedophile priests.


Details of CDF involvement in case are available at:




Jeff Anderson /612.817.8665

Mike Finnegan/612.205.5531


Timeline of CDF Involvement


Stephen Kiesle case


June 1981                            Bishop Cummins petitioned the Pope to laicize Kiesle.  States Kiesle was arrested for taking sexual liberties with at least six young men ages 11-13.  States Kiesle pled no contest to the charges. 


November 1981                Diocese received a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger requesting additional information. (noted in Diocese 1983 memo)


February 11, 1982            Diocese sent additional information to CDF. (noted in Diocese 1983 memo)


September 24, 1982        Diocese hadn’t received any word from CDF so they sent another letter asking about Kiesle case. (noted in Diocese 1983 memo)


October 21, 1982              CDF sent a “rather curtly” letter that told the Diocese that the matter would be examined at an opportune time.” (noted in Diocese 1983 memo)



September 1985               Diocese letter to Ratzinger asking the status of the laicization petition on Kiesle.


November 1985                Ratzinger wrote a letter to Diocese of Oakland about the petition for Kiesle’s laicization.


See AP Story – Ratzinger letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of “grave significance” but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with “as much paternal care as possible” while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But 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.


January 1986                      Diocese letter describes Ratzinger’s 1985 letter.  States that Diocese received a letter from the Prefect for the CDF (Ratzinger at the time).  States CDF will need more time and CDF wonders if granting dispensation might “provoke some scandal among the faithful”


1987                                       Kiesle is laicized


1988                                       Kiesle is the youth coordinator at a parish in Pinole, CA in the Diocese of Oakland for at least 8 months.