Friday, November 14, 2008

Former Milwaukee Archbishop Admits Secretly Relocating Abusive Priests

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an article and video footage of Rembert Weakland's testimony regarding how allegations of sexual abuse by Milwaukee area priests were handled while he was Archbishop. It's noteworthy in that it's the first case I know of wherein one of the Bishops involved in perpetuating the institutionalized child abuse has just come right out and admitted it point-blank. Among the low-lights:

-Weakland never discussed accusations of abuse with the accused priests

-Timothy Dolan, the new Archbishop, never sat down with Weakland to discuss abuse-related issues and what Weakland and others may have known (video 1:10)

Note: for those who grew up in the Milwaukee Archdioces, especially for those who knew this man, the video might be a little disturbing.

I was particularly angered at the following exchange, at about 6:30
If you would have informed the parishioners of the known risk of a priest like Wadera, you never could have assigned him to that parish, 'cause the people wouldn't have it, right?

W: Right, exactly.

And so what the practice was, was to not tell the people, and assign 'em, hoping that they would not re-offend.

W: Hope is.. uh.. too modest a word. (smiles slightly)

Making the choice to take the risk that they would not re-offend

W: With... with safeguards.

Is the Doctrine of Manifestation of Conscience, in your view, an admonition against asking somebody like (Accused priest Franklin) Becker "Did you abuse kids?"

W: Yes, it would be: he would not have to have answered that in the affirmative, to his bishop.

Would it be some kind of violation of norms, protocols, or laws for you as the Archbishop to have asked your priest that question?

W: As far as I know, it would have been contrary to what a bishop has a right to ask of his priest.

Contrary how? Your first duty is to the congregation, asshole. I was in sixth grade when you placed Becker where he could get at kids. I can only thank providence that you didn't place him at my parish.

I consider myself fortunate that I was never victimized by the predators this man sheltered. While I can't say that all of the priests I knew growing up were nice guys, they were all, AFAIK, decent and committed clergy. Many of them were wonderful men and good friends.

But what really appalls me is that this man, had you asked me my opinion before the scandal broke, would have numbered among those I admired and considered good people. I knew him. He confirmed me. I may have received first communion from him (I'm not sure on that one, though). That he was, during the time I knew him, abetting these jackals, makes me shudder. I could have been one of the children he threw into their clutches.

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