Auxiliary bishop voluntarily withdraws from public ministry ‘for what I failed to do’

Auxiliary bishop voluntarily withdraws from public ministry ‘for what I failed to do’ September 20, 2018


The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has approved a request by retired auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau for a withdrawal from public ministry for failing to report to civil authorities an incident of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest in 1979.

The details of the incident and diocese’s response are published in the newest edition of The Compass, the official diocesan newspaper.

Bishop David Ricken is expected to address the issue at a media event Friday morning. He recently released a multi-point plan for how the church will respond to the latest developments in the sexual abuse crisis.

The Compass published a copy of Morneau’s Sept. 14 letter to Ricken.

September 14, 2018

Dear Bishop Ricken,

I write to you today with a heavy heart and great sorrow. In light of the recent public revelations of past abuse in the church and the call for more accountability on the part of bishops, I feel that my own actions are no less subject to scrutiny than those of other bishops. I failed to report to local authorities an incident of abuse of a minor by a priest in 1979 and, as a result, this priest was able to abuse again several years later. Because of this, I voluntarily request a withdrawal from all public ministry. I intend to spend my time in prayer for all victims and survivors of sexual abuse and I will do corporal works of mercy in reparation for what I failed to do.

Looking back, I should have handled this situation differently than I did at the time. At the time, I was asked by the family of the victim to arrange an apology from the offending priest, which I did. I felt at the time I had done what was asked of me by helping the parties to reconcile. The measures taken were ultimately insufficient to protect others from abuse from this same priest. I very much regret and apologize for this, especially to those victimized following my mistake in this regard.

I take full responsibility for my failures in this matter and ask for forgiveness and prayers for healing for all who were harmed. I apologize to all those who put their trust in me.

Peace in the Risen Lord,

The Most Reverend Robert F. Morneau

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay

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