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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

 

April 11, 2008

Weakland’s “number one man” in sex abuse cover up honored with major role in Papal visit

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee, cell, 414-429-7259)

Sklba orchestrated Weakland’s half a million dollar hush money payout, directed concealment of child sex crimes

Sklba still keeps his job under Dolan, yet 37 more archdiocesan employees this week will lose theirs

For his major role in covering up sex crimes for decades in the Milwaukee archdiocese and bringing the archdiocese to what officials say is the brink of bankruptcy, long time auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba will be honored next week with playing a major role in the upcoming Papal visit of Benedict XI to the United States.   

Sklba will be hosting an historic interfaith meeting of the Pope and major U.S. religious leaders on April 17 in Washington.    

In 2004, amid protest by victims of clergy abuse and others, Sklba was appointed to chair the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Sklba, who was the personal choice in 1979 of former archbishop Rembert Weakland for the position of Milwaukee’s auxiliary, was one of the youngest American bishops ever appointed. 

Weakland, resigned as Archbishop in 2002 after it was learned that he, Sklba and the archdiocesan finance director, Wayne Schnieder, secretly paid a man who says that Weakland sexually assaulted him a half a million dollars in church money.  Weakland admitted to a sexual relationship and the payout. 

But long before the hush money settlement, Sklba was Weakland chief enforcer of his abuse cover up policy. 

In 1989, Weakland chose Sklba to create and supervise “Project Benjamin,” a semi-secret abuse cover-up operation, used by Weakland for the secret transfer of scores of pedophile priests and religious throughout the Milwaukee archdiocese.  Project Benjamin’s goals were to keep victims and witnesses from reporting sex crimes by priests to authorities, buy off victim’s silence with legal settlements and gag orders, and secretly resettle the worse offenders into unsuspecting towns and neighborhoods without public notice.

Evidence obtained in the conviction this February in Milwaukee of pedophile nun, Norma Giannini, shows how Project Benjamin officials, under the direction of Sklba, obtained her direct confession that she had raped several children at St. Patrick’s in Milwaukee when she was principle of its grade school.  Not only did Sklba not forward this confession to authorities, he assisted Giannini and her religious order superiors in transporting her across state lines to a Chicago suburb.

Ironically, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now Sklba’s direct superior, announced this week that the archdiocese is laying of fifteen more employees.  Dolan claims that it is necessary because of costs associated with “priests who abused children in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”   

That is simply not true.

The Archdioceses of Milwaukee is facing financial troubles because of the growing liability, negligence and fraud being still uncovered by archdiocesan officials, chiefly Richard Sklba, who knowingly and repeatedly transferred child molesters into virtually every parish and schools in the Milwaukee archdiocese.

Why is Archbishop Dolan laying off 37 more employees this week from the archdiocese, hard working men and women who never covered up a single case of child rape, yet Sklba and Weakland’s coterie of co-conspirators who did, get to keep their salaries, insurance, and perks?

Archbishop Dolan should immediately inform Pope Benedict of Sklba’s complicity in covering up child sex crimes in Milwaukee and urge a more appropriate selection to conduct the April 17 meeting. 

Why does the church continue to advance the careers of men like Sklba and Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston (rewarded with a key position in Rome after leaving Boston in disgrace) and others who were and still are neck deep in the cover-up? 


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org