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Retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland dies at age 95

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, a number one Catholic liberal who pushed for social justice and elevated energy for girls within the church earlier than he resigned amid a intercourse and monetary scandal, has died. He was 95.

A classically skilled musician who spoke a number of languages, Weakland died in a single day at Clement Manor in Greenfield, the place he lived following a protracted sickness, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee stated Monday.

“For 1 / 4 of a century, Archbishop Weakland led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his management embodied his Benedictine spirit,” Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki stated in a press release.

The archbishop, who spoke publicly about his struggles with being homosexual, stepped down after a former Marquette College theology pupil revealed he had been paid $450,000 in 1997 to settle a sexual assault declare towards Weakland twenty years earlier. The cash got here from the archdiocese, although Weakland maintained the contact was consensual.

The settlement got here to mild because the church was coping with a nationwide scandal that erupted when the Boston Globe printed a sequence of articles about little one sexual abuse by clergymen. Victims in Milwaukee and different cities started coming ahead with claims of their very own.

Weakland had anticipated the general public to grasp that his settlement with the previous theology pupil, Paul Marcoux, was completely different from sums paid to little one sexual abuse victims, however he acknowledged in his 2009 memoir that was naive.

“Most papers simply tossed it into the hopper with the others, no distinctions being made,” he wrote.

Weakland had submitted his resignation on his seventy fifth birthday in step with church coverage. Pope John Paul II accepted it after Marcoux appeared on nationwide tv to accuse the archbishop of date rape.

Weakland advised The Related Press in 2009 that he had tried to depart his bitterness behind.

“I refused to let myself turn out to be a sufferer and refused to let myself turn out to be offended,” he stated. “I wish to take duty however I wish to transfer on.”

Born in 1927 in a lodge owned by his father and grandfather in Patton, Pa., Weakland was named George Samuel after his maternal and paternal grandfathers. He obtained the title Rembert practically twenty years later when he took vows as a Benedictine monk.

A fireplace destroyed the lodge in 1929, simply because the Nice Despair was beginning. The mixture despatched the household into monetary break and drove Weakland’s father to drink and despair. Basil Weakland died of pneumonia the day after his son’s fifth birthday.

Weakland advised The Related Press in 1984 that rising up on welfare after his father’s dying was a significant affect in his life.

As archbishop, he helped craft a 112-page pastoral letter from the nation’s bishops that decried excessive unemployment, homelessness and starvation and described big earnings gaps between the wealthy and poor as morally unacceptable. Launched days after former President Ronald Reagan’s re-election, the letter sharply contrasted with the Republican administration’s hands-off financial insurance policies.

Weakland pushed to extend ladies’s function within the church and to make it extra welcoming to them. He created a job pressure that beneficial ladies be permitted to evangelise and be thought of for ordination.

Exterior the church, he was a pianist who studied at The Juilliard College and earned a doctorate in musicology from Columbia College. Weakland additionally spoke six languages — English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Latin — and was elected to steer the Benedictine monks at age 40.

However his star started to fade because the church’s management grew to become extra conservative underneath Pope John Paul II. The archbishop’s public feedback on abortion, married clergymen and using condoms to stop the unfold of HIV put him in battle with different church authorities.

The Milwaukee archdiocese had been scuffling with little one sexual abuse earlier than Weakland took workplace. He continued a follow of looking for remedy for offending clergymen and transferring them to new church buildings however finally got here to see pedophilia as incurable dysfunction.

In 1992, he dismissed Rev. William Effinger from a Sheboygan parish and publicly apologized throughout a Mass for assigning him there following abuse allegations in 1979. Effinger died in jail after being convicted of kid abuse.

But Weakland nonetheless appeared responsible some victims, and plenty of felt the archdiocese maintained a hostile ambiance towards them underneath his management.

“Typically not all adolescent victims are so ‘harmless.’ Some may be sexually very energetic and aggressive and sometimes fairly streetwise,” the archbishop wrote in a 1988 diocese newspaper article.

The article centered totally on Weakland’s name to take away abusive clergymen from the church, and he later regretted the feedback about victims. He wrote in his memoir of his earlier failure to understand the impression of sexual abuse on youngsters.

“If I’ve any unhappiness, it’s that we’ve got made too little progress in understanding and serving to victims regain a full life,” he added. “Too many appear to be left in anger.”

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