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US archbishop releases clerical abuse documents in hope of bringing healing

By on Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Archbishop Jerome Listecki (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

Archbishop Jerome Listecki (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

An American archbishop has said that he decided to release almost 7,000 pages of documents related to clerical abuse in the hope of bringing healing to the victims and their families.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee made the comments in an email entitled “Love One Another”, a communiqué to priests and others involved in ministry in his archdiocese. He sent the message six days before the archdiocese posted the documents on its website, Archmil.org, yesterday.

“My hope in voluntarily making these documents public is that they will aid abuse survivors, families and others in understanding the past, reviewing the present and allowing the church in southeastern Wisconsin to continue moving forward”, he wrote.

Among the documents released are depositions of retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba and Cardinal Timothy Dolan taken in Chapter 11 proceedings. Cardinal Dolan, now New York’s archbishop, headed the Milwaukee archdiocese from 2002 to 2009.

Cardinal Dolan said he was grateful his deposition was included. Both giving the deposition and it being released with the other materials was “a chance to go on-the-record with how we responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis during my years in Milwaukee,” he added.

“Responding to victim-survivors, taking action against priest-abusers, and working to implement policies to protect children, were some of the most difficult, challenging, and moving events” of his time as Milwaukee’s archbishop, he said, adding that he was guided by the “need for transparency and openness”.

“The sexual abuse of minors is a crime and it is a sin,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The Church must remain rigorous in our response when an allegation of abuse is received, and ever-vigilant in maintaining our safeguards to do all that we can to see that children are protected.”

In his “Love One Another” email, Archbishop Listecki said that “there are some terrible things described in many of the documents”.

“Reading accounts of sexual abuse, whether by a priest, teacher, coach or family member, [is] ugly and unpleasant,” he wrote, adding he worries about the reactions of abuse survivors when confronted again with this material.

The archbishop noted he also worried about the effect the document release would have on Catholics and the general population.

“News about this topic can shake one’s faith. In fact, if you decide to go and review this material, prepare to be shocked,” he wrote.

Maryangela Layman Roman is on the staff of the Catholic Herald, a publication serving the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin

  • TreenonPoet

    The documents were made public as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese of Milwaukee and victims suing it for fraud. In that light, reread the article and observe the shameless mendacity of the Catholic Church.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Read the above post, and observe the shameless religious hatred of TreenonPoet.

  • TreenonPoet

    You illustrate just what I hate about religion. When you abandon rationality, anything can be justified. The depths of depravity sunk to in the Milwaukee case cannot be rationally justified. Covering up child abuse (cover that occured up to the highest level in the Catholic Church) is heinous enough. Transferring millions away (again with Vatican approval) just before declaring bankruptcy in order to avoid compensating abuse victims is the antithesis of the morality that the Church feigns. That hypocrisy is shown in statements reported in the article above the line.

    Your response is typical of the reactions of many Catholics to particular criticisms of the Church. Rather than address the criticisms, you try to make out that it is the critic who is at fault, implying that he has an evil irrational hatred of religion. This tactic is not only unfair on the critic, but in trying to divert attention from the issue, it represents complicity in it. The tactic is seen in frequent accusations of critics as being anti-catholic, anti-christian, anti-religion, anti-life, and so on.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Read the above post, and observe the shameless religious hatred and cherry-picking double standards of TreenonPoet.

  • Benedict Carter

    I am sorry to say that TP, that hater of the Catholic Church, on this occasion is right.