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Listecki removing Milwaukee Carmelite from ministry for sex abuse refutes archdiocese bankruptcy claims

September 2, 2011

Statement by John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin Director

CONTACT: 414.336.8575

After news stories appeared last week that Waukesha County police are seeking sex assault charges against a Milwaukee priest, the Catholic Herald is reporting that the priest is a member of the Carmelite religious order from a West Milwaukee parish. The Carmelites staff St. Florian’s parish for the archdiocese on the west side of Milwaukee.

Julie Wolf, communications director for the archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed Archbishop Jerome Listecki has removed the priest’s faculties in the archdiocese. Fr. Pat Heppe, vicar for ordained and ecclesial ministry in the diocese, stated that the priest will no longer be assigned in the archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Listecki’s decision to forbid this priest from working in his diocese directly contradicts the diocese’s longstanding claim that they are not in charge of the religious order clerics who work for them. According to the archdiocese’s own statistics over 50% of the priests in the diocese are members of religious orders.

The archdiocese also continues to refuse to include the names of religious order clerics on its list of those clergy who are restricted from ministry due to reports of sexual abuse. The offenders, whose identity they continue to conceal, include clerics who have served time in prison for sexual assault. They include Sister Norma Giannini, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, Fr. Dennis Pecore, a member of the Society of the Divine Savior, and Fr. Simon Palathingal, a member of the Salesian order.

According to the dioceses website their omission of these offenders is due to the fact that “Priests who are members of religious orders are under the supervision and authority of the religious order”. Listecki’s recent action is a clear and obvious contradiction of that claim.

Listecki has even made this assertion in bankruptcy court where attorneys for the diocese have objected to allowing victim/survivors to file a claim if they were assaulted by a religious order cleric working in the diocese. Jim Stang, the attorney for the creditors committee, correctly noted that a religious order priest must be granted faculties from the bishop to work in the diocese.

The removal of the faculties of a Carmelite priest, by archbishop Listecki, is a clear demonstration that the archbishop supervises and oversees the employment of religious order clerics in his diocese. Listecki should immediately place the names of all religious order offenders on the official list of those clerics who have been restricted from ministry.

In addition Listecki should promptly instruct his attorneys to drop their objections in bankruptcy court and allow victim/survivors who have been abused by religious order personnel to file a claim. The damage and harm done to a child is no different whether it is committed by a diocesan or a religious order cleric.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is] 

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