The Easter season is an opportunity for
bishops to make major statements to local Catholics. The current Archbishop of
Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki, used a special Mass on Thursday for all his
priests, to defend Benedict XVI and express remorse for the inaction of his
The Holy Father does not need me to defend
him or his decisions. I believe, and history will confirm that his actions in
responding to this crisis, swiftly and decisively and his compassionate
response to victims/survivors, speak for themselves. The Holy Father has been
firm in his commitment to combat clergy sexual abuse; root it out of the
Church; reach out to those who have been harmed; and hold perpetrators
accountable. He has been a leader, meeting with victims/survivors and
chastising bishops for their lack of judgment and leadership.
Milwaukee, of course, is currently the
centre of a storm of controversy over whether the Pope did or didn’t ignore an
egregious case of sex abuse by a priest between 1950 and 1974.
Mistakes were made in the Lawrence Murphy
case. The mistakes were not made in Rome in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The mistakes
were made here, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in the 1970s, the 1980s and
the 1990s, by the Church, by civil authorities, by Church officials, and by
bishops. And for that, I beg your forgiveness in the name of the Church and in
the name of this Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Archbishop Listecki also praised groups
which lobbied for justice.
Because of those who have come forward —
those who have been harmed in a most egregious way; those who have been relentless
in their criticism of the Church; those who have pushed and prodded – some say
even forced — the Church to change; those brave victims-survivors who have had
the courage to come forward and publicly tell their story even after decades of
feeling ignored — because of their persistence and perseverance, we know the
Church has changed.
We owe these victims/survivors our deep
gratitude and we acknowledge our own actions have not always expressed that