Green Bay Diocese Removes Name of Former Bishop Wycislow from Center, But What About Rembert Weakland in Milwaukee?
Today, Bishop David Ricken of the Green Bay diocese announced he is removing the name of former Bishop Aloysius Wycislow from the cathedral center for “failure to adequately handle sex abuse cases”. In other words, covering up child sex crimes, not reporting predators to the police, transferring offenders to new parishes where they abused more children, and misleading Catholics.
While this gesture is welcome, it raises a lot of questions. What exactly did Bishop Wycislow do that his name is being removed? What specific cases did he cover up or mismanage? Where is the documentation and evidence? These facts can only come from the abuse files of the Green Bay diocese. But the diocese says they mostly destroyed these files under former Bishop David Zubik. That document destruction, admitted under oath in a civil case, has yet to be investigated by a single law enforcement official in Wisconsin.
Interestingly, if Ricken had a building named after him in his former diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, they would have to remove his name. He himself “mismanaged” the case of Cheyenne former bishop, Joseph Hart. Several victims had come forward and filed lawsuits against Hart by 2005. One of their demands was that Hart’s name be removed from a building at St. Joseph's Children's Home in Torrington. Ricken said no name change would occur since "none of the accusations against Bishop Hart have been deemed credible." Yet, the new bishop of Cheyenne, Stephen Biegler, last year removed Hart from ministry because the allegations against Hart were, in fact, credible--the same allegations that Ricken said were not. Along with removing Hart from ministry, Biegler removed his name from the building.
At least one can now presume that Ricken will be challenging his brother Wisconsin bishop, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, to remove former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s name from the Milwaukee cathedral center and former Archbishop William Cousins name from the Milwaukee archdiocese headquarters. For years, survivors have not only asked that Weakland’s name be removed from the center but also to remove the bronze frieze inside St. John’s Cathedral depicting Weakland in the biblical story of Jesus with little children. The documentation, evidence and proof concerning the "mismanagement" of abuse cases by Weakland and Cousin is quite easy to find and has been public for several years: 60,000 court ordered released pages of abuse files detailing decades of systematic cover up of child sex crimes.
Pope Francis last week from the balcony of St. Peter’s said that priests who abuse children are “ravenous wolves” and “instruments of Satan.” That’s strong language. Those who let wolves prey upon children and, apparently, according to the pope, do the work of “Satan” out not to have catholic buildings named after them. Exactly why is something that needs to be investigated by the Wisconsin Attorney General.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)