A Message from Priests and Clergy Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors
Some of us are priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and some of us are survivors of childhood rape and sexual assault by priests.
In the wake of the bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese this year, we have joined together as survivors and clergy in an ongoing dialogue about the clergy sex abuse crisis and what we can do about it.
The sexual abuse of a minor by a priest is a crime and a sin. If you were sexually violated by a member of the clergy it was not your fault. We want you to know:
• If you suffered this violation you are not alone.
• There are many survivors who have come forward and are receiving the care and assistance that they need.
• There are many resources in our community that are available to assist you and you can choose to use them or not.
We stand by you and support you.
• To be believed you must be heard. No one else will know unless you tell them.
EACH OF US BELIEVES that at the center of the human heart is
an absolute longing for justice. We are committed to creating among
priests and survivors a true and lasting community of justice.
Over the next months we want to widen our conversation to include
other priests and survivors in the archdiocese, especially those that
have already expressed a desire to join with us.
AS PRIESTS AND PASTORS OF THE ARCHDIOCESE,
we publicly declare our unqualified support to every victim/survivor.
We hold ourselves and our institution fully accountable for any action
or inaction that may have allowed these crimes to occur, the
offender to go unpunished, and other children to be harmed. We are
truly sorry that this happened to you.
We believe that, in order for our church and our community to heal,
there will need to be a full institutional accounting of the crimes
that have taken place in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Victim/Survivors
and their families have told us how important it is that they
know the truth about what happened to them in their church. But,
it is also important for each one of us.
Obviously, we are very tardy in making this public statement of
apology, support, and accountability. But, making this statement
now is better than remaining silent.
AS VICTIM/SURVIVORS OF THESE CRIMES, we declare our
unqualified support for every priest who takes the courageous step
of publicly standing with survivors.
Shame is logically and naturally created when a child is sexually
violated. But that shame is rarely, if ever, felt by the offender.
Instead, the offender pours that shame into the body of the child.
If justice does not intervene to lift that weight, eventually the soul and
aspirations of that child will be crushed by it.
If even the possibility of spiritual repair with the church is to become
real and effective for survivors, priests of the archdiocese must
courageously join us and insist upon a full and public confession,
which must include the open publication of all abuse related
documents in possession of the archdiocese and of the religious orders
serving in the archdiocese, detailing a full and explanatory
list of all clerics and employees who have harmed children and minors.
THE SEX OFFENDER ALWAYS commits two crimes: first he
steals the body, and then he steals the voice. The first and last moment
of the miracle of recovery from sexual violence—for the victim,
for the offender, and for an institution--is the resurrection of the
voice through words of truth.
We want there to be hope. We want there to be healing.
We want a new day for the church.
For victim/survivors who may still be living in silence or shame,
we hope this public plea from us—as survivors and priests working
together--to come forward before the February 1, 2012 court date
for filing a case for restitution through the bankruptcy process and
to seek help and guidance with this decision through the resources
we have posted below will be a beginning in creating together the
community of justice, which we all long for.
Mike Sneesby, SNAP Milwaukee Director (survivor)
Karen Konter, female advocate, (survivor)
Peter J. Isely, MS, M.Div, LCSW, SNAP Midwest Director (survivor)
John Pilmaier, MSW, APSW, SNAP Wisconsin Director (survivor)
Vicky A. Schneider, MAPS (survivor)
Marilynn Pilmaier, RN, BSN (mother of survivor)
Fr. Richard Cerpich | Fr. James Connell
Fr. Gregory Greiten | Fr. Howard G. Haase
Resources in our community:
The Healing Center: 414-671-4325
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
608-257-1516 608-257-2537 (TTY) www.wcasa.org
Sexual Assault Treatment Center:
414-219-5555 (A crisis counselor is available 24 hours a day. Non-crisis
information/referral is available M-F 8:30-5:00)
Counsel for Creditor’s Committee (of survivors)
for information regarding the bankruptcy: 1-888-496-8643
SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests)
Peter J Isely: 414-429-7259
John Pilmaier: 414-336-8575
Mike Sneesby: 414-915-4374
Archdiocese of Milwaukee:
Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office:
Sensitive Crimes Division: (if you would like to speak to a member
of the law enforcement community concerning a sexual assault)
Your local police department or county office for health and human
Any other resource that you trust.
If you would like to contact one of us whose names are listed above,
call Fr. Jim Connell at 414-940-8054 or John Pilmaier at 414-336-8575.
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Today we are making an urgent appeal to victim/survivors
to come forward before the closing of the February 1, 2012
bankruptcy bar date, and offer our help.
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