The sexual abuse scandal in Milwaukee archdiocese is a series of sex abuse cases in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
2003 report on sexual abuse
Following public testimony by victims before a combined session of the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committee, a report on the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee was published in September 2003 and revealed that allegations of sexually assaulting minors had been made against 58 ordained men, who were under the direct supervision of the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
In response to the sexual abuse scandal, Archbishop Timothy Dolan held a meeting with victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, and clergy. He opposed legislation that would have extended or eliminated the statute of limitations on the filing of clergy sexual abuse cases.
Nevertheless, Dolan helped the archdiocese avoid bankruptcy from lawsuits, and closed a $3 million budget deficit in 2008. He later called the sexual abuse scandals the most challenging issue of his tenure in Milwaukee, saying, "Does it haunt me? Yes it does. And I'm not afraid to admit that."
Lawrence Murphy case
In March 2010, an article in the New York Times stated that Vatican officials, including then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), did not respond to credible allegations of serious sexual abuse of boys by defrocking the accused priest. Several U.S. bishops had warned the Vatican that failure to hold a church trial and defrock the priest could embarrass the church. Murphy is believed to have molested up to 200 deaf boys before the mid-1970s. Murphy was elderly and seriously ill when the first question related to the allegations reached the Vatican, two decades after the abuse occurred. Local law enforcement agencies also knew about the abuse and did nothing.
Murphy taught at the former St. John School for the Deaf in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis, Wisconsin from 1950 to 1974. After the allegations were made, Murphy was moved by then Milwaukee Archbishop William Edward Cousins to Superior, Wisconsin, a small city near Lake Superior, where he spent his final 24 years working in parishes, schools and a juvenile detention center. Murphy died in 1998, several months after he requested that the Vatican halt a canonical trial against him because of his ill health.
Critics have alleged that former archbishop Rembert Weakland covered up, or at least failed to publicize, some of the abuse, in particular by overseeing an evaluation in 1993 of Murphy. Weakland twice wrote in 1996 about the case to Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but received no reply. Cardinal Bertone instructed Wisconsin bishops to start a canonical trial that could have resulted in a range of punishments, including defrocking. Later, the formal church trial was dropped because a church statute of limitations had been exceeded, and because Murphy was elderly and in poor health. The Congregation suggested the archbishop instead punish Murphy by imposing penance and restricting his public ministry. Laicization would have released Murphy from nearly all obligations of priesthood, including the obligation to perform any penance ordered by his bishop. Archbishop Weakland said, "The evidence was so complete and so extensive that I thought he should be reduced to the lay state", and complained that the Vatican tribunals moved too slowly.
- Archdiocese of Milwaukee
- Sexual Abuse Prevention & Response Services
- Sexual Abuse Information
- Safeguarding All of God's Family
- Bohn, Lauren E. (2009-02-26). "New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan". TIME Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1881861,00.html.
- "Vatican defends decision not to defrock priest accused of molesting deaf boys in Wisconsin". Associated Press. 25 March 2010. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/vatican_defends_decision_not_t.html.
- New York Times, "Vatican Declines to Defrock US Priest Who Abused Boys, March 25, 2010.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man recounts abuse by priests, says pope should be held accountable," March 25, 2010.