Image: Arthur Budzinski
Jeffrey Phelps  /  AP
Arthur Budzinski, 61, left, speaks using sign language via his daughter Gigi Budzinski at a press conference outside The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on Monday.
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updated 3/30/2010 1:49:22 PM ET 2010-03-30T17:49:22

A man who says he was among some 200 deaf boys allegedly molested by a priest in Wisconsin said Monday the Vatican's defensive responses to revelations about the case make him feel like he did when he was 12, when no one would listen to him about the abuse.

Arthur Budzinski, 61, said at a news conference outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist that Pope Benedict XVI was trying to protect himself against criticism of his handling of the Wisconsin case against the Rev. Lawrence Murphy. Murphy was accused of molesting some 200 boys at the St. John's School for the Deaf outside Milwaukee from 1950-1975. He never was defrocked.

"It's 2010. I'm not trying to hurt the pope," Budzinski said. "The pope should do something. I'm just telling my story. That's all I'm doing," said his 26-year-old daughter Gigi Budzinski, who interpreted his sign language.

Top Roman Catholic officials are rubbing salt "into the already deep wounds of those who have been victimized and disillusioned by the Catholic church" by criticizing those speaking out about the Vatican, said Mary Guentner, a spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Guentner, who says she was abused by a nun in a different school, said victims should be praised, thanked and welcomed but instead have been vilified, mischaracterized and insulted for speaking out.

"It's ludicrous to claim that these hundreds of once-trusting, devout Catholics are somehow conspiring to hurt the world's most powerful religious figure," she said.

Church trial halted
Recently released documents showed a Vatican office led by the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, halted a church trial against Murphy. Ratzinger's deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, shut the process down after Murphy wrote Ratzinger a letter saying he had repented, was old and ailing, and that the case's statute of limitations had run out. Bertone now serves as the Vatican's secretary of state.

The Vatican has said the case only reached the Vatican in 1996, that Murphy died two years later, and that there was nothing in the church's handling of the matter that precluded any civil action from being taken against him.

Benedict made no direct mention of the scandal in his Palm Sunday homily, but said Jesus Christ guides the faithful "toward the courage that doesn't let us be intimidated by the chatting of dominant opinions, toward patience that supports others."

The Vatican newspaper recently said there was a "clear and despicable intention" to strike at Benedict "at any cost."

'I'm not despicable'
Several victims held signs at the Monday news conference that read "Stop attacking us!" and "I'm not despicable."

Guentner said when the church attacks victims' motives, it intimidates other victims and witnesses whose information might protect other children.

She said she wants Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to "ask the pope to be transparent, to disclose any involvement in any sexual abuse cases and to stop insulting victims," she said.

She also responded to comments made Sunday by former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is currently the New York Archbishop. He said the pope was suffering some of the same unjust accusations once faced by Jesus.

"(It) seems a little extreme to me," she said. "I think that seems a little extreme to all of us. We are now feeling persecuted from the response of the Vatican."

Kentucky case
Also on Tuesday, the Vatican launched a legal defense that the church hoped would shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky. The suit seeks to have the pope deposed over claims that the Holy See was negligent in failing to report abuse claims.

In court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, Vatican lawyers map out their strategy to try to dismiss the lawsuit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or secret documents subpoenaed.

The Vatican lawyers plan to argue the pope has immunity as head of state. They also say that a 1962 document is not a "smoking gun" proving a Vatican coverup. And the documents contend that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests were not employed by the Holy See.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Victim: Vatican must be ‘held accountable’

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