Bishop to flock: "I feel deeply ashamed…"

Facing a growing tide of sex abuse lawsuits, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is filing for bankruptcy.  This afternoon, Archbishop Jerome Listecki released a statement.  A key excerpt, below.

“For those who may feel anger and resentment that we have come to this moment, STOP.  We are here because of one reason:  priests sexually abused minors.  For that, I feel deeply ashamed. As your bishop, I apologize to victims/survivors for the harm, pain and suffering they are experiencing.

I also want to apologize to all the faithful priests, religious and laity whose good works may have been tarnished by this ongoing tragedy.  This can be a difficult time to be a Catholic.

But with humble hearts you persist. You come to Mass.  You support your parishes and schools.  You contribute at record levels to support the mission of the Church. You do countless good works through Catholic organizations.  With you, the Church will continue to serve hundreds of thousands of people, making major contributions to our communities, even as we proceed with this reorganization.  You carry on because you understand that while the human dimension of the Church mirrors all of humanity’s failings, the Holy Spirit guiding her ultimately prevails.

Your faith is the rock on which we will build a renewed Church in southeastern Wisconsin.  This is what gives me hope and confidence as we enter into this process. Just as the pain and suffering of those who have been harmed is beyond imagining, our financial reorganization will be painful, as it should be.  This process will lay the groundwork for a new beginning. Like a damaged tree that is pruned drastically, I firmly believe our archdiocese will ultimately grow back, healthier and stronger, as long as our own faith remains rooted in Jesus Christ.”

Read more of the statement here.

  • Paul Stokell

    And Rembert Weakland is doing what these days??

  • anthony

    Paul, what is the point of your statement? Most all of the cases that have caused the present crisis happened before Bishop Weakland arrived there. These problems are systemic, lets hope all the truth finally gets out and the people there can finally make a new start.

  • ds0490

    I think what Anthony is suggesting is that there is something in this situation (and in many of the cases of child abuse in the church) that is more important than the financial settlement. That is accountability…both for the perpetrator(s) and those who protected them by keeping information from authorities for those many years.

    Bishop Weakland, if he participated in this cover-up, needs to be held accountable, just as any other bishop or archbishop who is found to have knowingly shielded predators. The fact that Bishop Weakland paid diocese funds to an individual to avoid a lawsuit makes people wonder if there is more that is being covered up by him or those who worked with him.

    Financial settlements are only part of the picture. The Church needs to also hold those guilty individuals personally accountable for their actions. Absent that there will always be a pall over the Church…and deservedly so.

  • http://annebender.blogspot.com Anne Bender

    Oops! That’s Archbishop JEROME Listecki.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Ack! Thanks, Anne (blush). That’s what I get for trying to do four things at once :-)

    Dcn. G.

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  • pagansister

    Unfortunately there are still priests and their superiors who haven’t been found yet, and should be held accountable. When will this end? Who knows? I’m sure that this Bishop is “deeply ashamed”, but the only thing that will really help, IMO is to continue to find and hold accountable the guilty.

  • BobRN

    ds0490 and pagansister,

    What would you recommend the Church do to hold those responsible accountable?

    Is it your contention that know abusers are still being protected by bishops, that they’re being moved from parish to parish, and that the authorities are not being informed when a bishop becomes aware of the presence of a known abuser in his diocese? Certainly, a bishop can’t hold an abuser accountable when he doesn’t know he’s out there. The only way for an abuser to become known is for the victims to come forward. Is there any diocese in the US that doesn’t have a way for abusers to come forward with their stories in a way that protects them? I’m not trying to be hard-headed, but what exactly would ya’ll recommend the bishops do that hasn’t yet been done?

    In my diocese, a priest was accused of abuse. He was confronted with such by the bishop, and admitted the abuse. He was immediately removed from the priesthood. He may no longer be called a priest, nor function as a priest. The civil authorities were notified immediately. He was sentanced to two years probation. Not one day in jail. Not one day off the streets. Not one day in any sort of protective custody. Frankly, I feel betrayed, though not by my bishop, but by the civil authorities who chose to allow this known, confessed child abuser to continue walking the streets. Yes, he’s an old man now. Yes, the abuse was thirty years ago. But the victim still has to live with that, and the child abuser WALKS?!!!

  • Felix

    The bishop is dodging the point.

    He says “We are here because of one reason: priests sexually abused minors”. Nope.

    Sure, that’s one side of the coin. But the other side is that the previous bishop connived at sexual abuse, to the extent of attacking people who reported instances of abuse.

    And yet the previous archbishop still features on artwork in the cathedral.

  • pagansister

    BobRN: Continue to believe those that have come forward. From what I have read, albeit some things that have been published have been blown out of proportion, that while these abuses were taking place, a parent would complain, but was brushed off, or not believed and the priest would just continue his abuse—perhaps to another child, or as you said, just be moved to another parish. What would I have the church do? Just not give up on this and make sure that the new rules are being followed. All the cover up was to protect the church —instead of admitting it (the church) wasn’t infallible.

    You mentioned that a convicted priest in your parish wasn’t jailed—unfortunately even those child molesters who aren’t connected to any church are not jailed for life, or are given parole. When is the legal system going to realize those folks are NOT ever cured and IMO need to be permanently jailed.

  • Anabel

    Here’s a good summary of what Mr. Weakland (he is not worthy of AB title) has been up to:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/090520

    Please pray for the Milwaukee Archdocese. The pain inflicted by this “man” has been devastating.

    I pray that those who left will return and help us rebuild.

  • BobRN

    pagansister,

    Thanks. I think dioceses and bishops are doing this now.

    The results speak for themselves: according to the most recent John Jay report, the number of accusations made against priests in 2009 was six. The yearly average over the last decade is less than two. This is down from hundreds in the sixties and seventies. I’ve often said, and I still believe, that if any other institution had experienced this kind of turn around, every other institution would be knocking their door down to find out what they did to get these kind of results. But, because it’s the Church, not only does no one care to adopt the Church’s reforms, but it’s never reported in the MSM. To my mind, this exposes the lie that the targeting of the abuse in the Church by the MSM and the politicians and state legislatures has anything to do with protecting the children. It’s about attacking the Church.

    Consider the fact that every time legislation has been introduced in state legislatures (ie: CA, NY, CO, etc…) to remove the statute of limitations on abuse of children, the legislation was originally written to exempt public institutions. If, in reaction to opposition, the legislation was amended to include public institutions, it’s been defeated because of pressure from the teacher’s unions. Considering the recent congressional report on the matter, it’s no wonder:

    http://www.newscastmedia.com/child-abusers.html

    The good consequence, however, has been the genuine reform of the Church, again as demonstrated by the results.


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