From the Pastor 1/20/19
In follow up to bishop's press release of January 17th:
In late September, the Diocese of Green Bay entered into an agreement with the independent investigative firm Defenbaugh & Associates, Inc., to conduct an outside review of the files of all diocesan priests and deacons.
The findings of this outside review were made to the Diocesan Independent Review Board and the Chancellor just before Christmas. Following thoughtful consideration, they recommended to Bishop Ricken that he release the names of those diocesan clergy who had one or multiple substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
After thorough discussion and prayerful contemplation, Bishop Ricken did release the names of these men on the diocesan website (www.gbdioc.org/clergydisclosurelist) at noon this past Thursday, January 17. The complete list can be accessed there and will be printed in the January 25 issue of The Compass.
None of the names listed are those of priests currently serving in the diocese. In most instances, the incidents that occurred to create this disclosure list happened years, sometimes decades, ago. Some were reported long after priests had been assigned to a particular parish, sometimes after a priest had retired and still others after a priest death. All of us, from the Bishop to psychologists to the public, understand this issue much better today and know we must deal with it in a swift, constructive and healing manner for all involved.
Just because a priest listed served in a particular parish does not mean that any abuse occurred in that parish. Transparency hurts. It has been likened to coming into the light after being in darkness. Yet, it is important for the Church to be open, honest, and candid.
Names of diocesan priests are being made known for the common good. There are four main reasons:
- Protecting children is our primary concern and obligation.
- Reaffirming Bishop Ricken’s commitment to seeking, reaching out to, and encouraging any victims survivors of clergy sexual abuse who have yet to come forward to do so.
- Affirming the faithful, holy, and wholesome service of the vast majority of priests who serve in the 16 counties of northeastern Wisconsin.
- Demonstrate Bishop Ricken’s commitment, as outlined in his Seven Action Steps to Accountability, to make whatever changes necessary to help our diocese reform, learn and grow from this experience, and to ask all living in the diocese for forgiveness and an opportunity to rebuild trust.
Knowing a priest whose name is listed may cause anxiety for people who have been married by that priest or had that priest baptize their children, etc. Sacraments are the work of Christ. Sacraments give grace, and their power comes from God through Jesus Christ, not through any human person.
If you know of an incident of sexual abuse of a minor currently under the age of 18 by a priest, deacon, employee or volunteer, immediately call the civil authorities and then contact the diocesan victim assistance coordinator. If the person was abused as a minor and is now an adult, please contact the diocesan victim assistance coordinator:
- Office of Victim Assistance, Alnilda Aribuza (920) 272-8171
- Office of Safe Environment, Deacon Dan Wagnitz, 1-877-270-8174 or (920) 272-8174
- Catholic Charities, Director Ted Phernetton, (920) 272-8234 or 1-877500-3580, ext. 8234
- Human Resources, Jennifer Buechel, (920) 272-8343 or 1-877-5003580, ext. 8343
Most importantly please keep all involved in prayer. Pray for healing, for peace, pray our church.