Archdiocese Confirms Weakland Shredded Criminal Evidence

Also Claim Former DA McCann Reviewed All Documents Related to Clergy Sexual Abuse?

Statement by John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin Co-Director
Peter Isely,  SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259

Archdiocese “talking points” to priests on Weakland’s shredding of reports posted below statement In an unusual Friday email sent to priests, the archdiocese of Milwaukee has confirmed that former archbishop Rembert Weakland shredded on a weekly basis criminal evidence contained in secret reports and investigations of sex crimes by priests. The evidence, which included direct admissions by molesters to church officials, were compiled and recorded in “Vicar Logs.”  The logs were authored by various priest Vicars throughout Weaklands’s 25 years of running the archdiocese.  Current auxiliary bishop Richard Sklba, for example, once held the post.

In previously sealed court testimony released last week, Weakland said he shredded the logs because he didn’t want the evidence “laying around” his office.

The archdiocese on Friday, confirming and justifying Weakland?s shredding of the reports, suggested that “If asked” on Sunday by parishioners, pastors and priests should explain that the criminal evidence of child sex crimes being destroyed  by the archbishop were “copies” and “not originals.”

Which begs the questions:   why would shredding copies of criminal evidence be any less morally reprehensible then shredding the originals?  How does that absolve Weakland from the horrendous information being complied for him to read on a weekly basis so that he can better orchestrate a cover up?  What procedures were in place for the copying and distribution of these reports?  Who saw them?  Who discussed them?  What was done with them?  Were they turned over to the police?  Sent to the Vatican?

One thing we know for sure:  none of the information got to children, families and parishes of the archdiocese.  And they were the ones who desperately needed it.  That?s why the archdiocese is facing fraud lawsuits today.

Additionally, the archdiocese is now saying that former DA E. Michael McCann reviewed “all” documents related to sex abuse by priests in 2003.  Not “some” or a “representative sample” but “all,” which  would mean some thousands and thousands of pages of Vicar logs, reports, letters, memos, and depositions.

Which, if true, begs another set of disturbing questions:  Why would the DA not prosecute in 2003 clergy like Sr. Norma Giannini, whose confessions of sexually assaulting boys in Milwaukee was in the archdiocesan files (she was prosecuted after McCann left office).  Did he know of the shredding by Weakland?

And why wouldn’t McCann decry the characterization of his involvement in files concerning Fr. Franklyn Becker, where the Vicar writes that McCann advised the archdiocese to take Becker out of ministry and return him after a period of time, instead of arresting him for current child sex crimes.  What about the 10 priests who were accused and left in ministry by the archdiocese in 2003?   Did McCann investigate those reports?

Both the archdiocese and McCann will  have another opportunity to explain their record and association when the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee takes up the Child Victims Act (SB319).  McCann and new Milwaukee archbishop Jerome Listecki both testified unsuccessfully to defeat the reform bill before the Assembly Committee for Children and Families (AB453 last month, which voted to bring the bill to the full Assembly.

This time, maybe they can bring Weakland with them.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims in the United Sates, founded in 1989 with over 9,000 members with chapters nationwide (


Archdiocese of Milwaukee December 4 “Talking Points” of priests on Weakland shredding story

December 4, 2009

Dear Pastors, Parish Directors and Diocesan Priests,

We are providing you with some information that may be helpful should any of your parishioners have questions about the article that appeared in this morning?s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about Archbishop Emeritus Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B.

The article stated that Archbishop Weakland, during his tenure as Archbishop of Milwaukee, routinely shredded “weekly reports about sexual abuse by priests.”

Here are some facts you may want to share to set the record straight:

  • What was referred to in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, as being shredded, were copies of reports, not originals.
  • The Milwaukee District Attorney, E. Michael McCann, reviewed all documents related to clergy sexual abuse in 2003.
  • If the current Milwaukee County District Attorney would like to review the cases again, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee would support that decision.
  • The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has kept its promises and remains committed to working proactively toward resolution of any issues brought to us by victims/survivors of sexual abuse as a minor by diocesan clergy.
  • Most importantly, there is no clergy member with a substantiated report of sexual abuse of a minor in public ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Julie Wolf
Communications Office