A public hearing on legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations on civil actions against child sexual abusers turned into something more Tuesday at the Capitol. Milwaukee’s new Archbishop, Jerome Listecki, found himself on the hot seat, regarding one of his predecessors.
State Senator Glenn Grothman referred to former Archbishop Rembert Weakland as “a piece of work,” and pressed Listecki about why Weakland was allowed to attend Listecki’s recent installation Mass. “Isn’t it really a poke in the eye to all these people who’ve suffered so horribly, to continue, after the actions of this man, to give him a place of honor in ceremonies?” Grothman referred to church officials who allowed Weakland to attend the installation as “screwballs.”
Listecki admitted that Weakland is “a lightning rod” within the Archdiocese. “Having said that, you know you do talk to some people who talk about some of the good things that he has done. Now, certainly, those good things, a pall is cast upon them because of the direction and leadership he’s given in this area.”
Weakland served as Milwaukee Archbishop for twenty-five years and has been accused of returning priests accused of sexually abusing children to active duty. Grothman asked Listcki about Wealand’s current status. “Does he have any position of honor still in the church? Is he still over anybody or have any authority at all?” Listecki said no, that Weakland is “totally retired.”
Retired, but not without honor, according to Peter Isely, Midwest Director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “He’s the emeritus Archbishop of Milwaukee, that is an honorary title. That title can be taken from him,” said Isely. “He can be removed from the board of the Catholic Conference. The pastoral center at the Cathedral is called the Weakland Center. Change the name.”