Catholic Laity in Wisconsin Stand Up for Transparency in Cases of Clergy Abuse
Hundreds of graduates from four Catholic schools in Wisconsin signed a joint letter to a local religious order, demanding answers and actions following a recent article that detailed one man’s struggle with clergy abuse that ultimately culminated in suicide. We applaud these men and women for using their voices to fight for truth and transparency and hope that their example inspires lay Catholics around the country.
The example set by graduates from Notre Dame Academy, Premontre High School, Abbot Pennings, and St. Joseph Academy gives us hope that more and more lay Catholics are choosing to be less deferential to Church officials and less willing to believe what they say when it comes to cases of clergy abuse. Minimization, obfuscation, and sanitizing language regarding cases of abuse are key parts of the “playbook” for clergy abuse uncovered by Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro. We believe that the recent comments from Abbot Dane Radecki regarding Nate's abuse were attempts to follow that playbook. We are grateful to see these alumni push back.
Despite what Abbot Radecki says, internal investigations tend to be little more than whitewashes of allegations. We believe true transparency can only be achieved through independent, secular authorities in law enforcement who can use search warrants, subpoena power, and testimony under oath to get to the real truth. An external for-profit company like Praesidium is no replacement for an investigation started by a prosecuting attorney or attorney general.
We hope that these brave alumni will join our calls for an independent investigation and will reach out to AG Josh Kaul to implore his office to follow in the footsteps of attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and elsewhere and look into clergy abuse within their state. Wisconsinites deserve truth and transparency, too.
The saddest fact about Nate Lindstrom’s story is that he is not alone. Suicide is an all-too-common result of child sexual abuse, with studies showing that children who were abused are two to five times as likely to attempt suicide than are other children. In order to prevent more stories like Nate’s, serious efforts must be made to prevent child abuse from ever happening in the first place. We believe those efforts will only be hastened and amplified when members of the public like these alumni get involved and demand better from their institutions. We applaud their example and hope that it inspires others around the country.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(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)