Names of Offending Priests
On July 9, 2004, in line with the spirit of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan authorized the publication of the names of diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who have been (or would be if they were still alive) restricted from all priestly ministries, may not celebrate the sacraments publicly, or present themselves as priests in any way, due to substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. In addition, in accordance with the canonical norms that have been established, the allegations against any living priest are sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
There were four reasons behind the decision to distribute this information:
- Protecting children and young people remains our primary concern and obligation.
- By releasing this information, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee reaffirms its commitment to seeking, reaching out to, and encouraging any victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse of minors who have yet to come forward to do so, knowing that they will be believed.
- We want to affirm the faithful, holy, and wholesome service of the vast majority of faithful priests who serve Catholics and the community in southeastern Wisconsin.
- We again demonstrate the promise of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to be open and candid. To obtain forgiveness and rebuild trust, our commitment is to remain open, accountable, and vigilant.
The listing included only diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee because it is these individuals who have direct accountability to the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Religious orders function separately from the archdiocese and are under the supervision and authority of their own leadership. There is a distinction between the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop over diocesan clergy as opposed to religious order clergy.
Clergy, diocesan and religious, have an obligation of obedience to the pope and their own Ordinary. For the diocesan priest, the Ordinary is the diocesan bishop; for the religious order priest, the Ordinary is their major superior. Thus, religious order priests are the responsibility of the religious orders.
We know that there have been cases of members of religious orders committing the horrendous crime of sexual abuse of minors while ministering in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The names of those perpetrators have been well publicized in both Catholic and secular media, and in publicly accessible court documents, and are already publicly available.
Accountability of Religious Order Priests
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and sets forth policy and procedure expectations for dioceses in the U.S. The USCCB does not set policy for religious orders. However, in August of 2002 the Conference of Major Superiors of Men declared that they "honor the values and principles of the Charter and seek to apply them to the unique situation of men's religious institutes in the Church." (Also in August of 2002, the leadership of women religious also issued a statement supporting healing and openness in light of the sexual abuse crisis.)
When a religious order priest requests faculties to minister publicly within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, that priest's superior is required to provide a statement verifying his suitability for ministry including assurance that he has not been credibly accused of abuse of a minor, has undergone a criminal background check and has completed safe environment training.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee requires the following from religious orders whose members minister within the archdiocese:
- A copy of the religious order's policy on its response to sexual abuse must be provided to the archdiocese before any of its members can minister within the archdiocese.
- The superior of each religious order must provide the archdiocese with written documentation that no substantiated reports of sexual abuse of a minor exist against any individual seeking to minister within the archdiocese.
- If the archdiocese receives a report of sexual abuse of a minor by a religious order priest, the archdiocese immediately reports the incident to the district attorney and/or law enforcement in the appropriate county and cooperates with civil officials in contacting the major superior of the priest.
View additional materials related to the issue of clergy sexual abuse of minors.