Rembert Weakland

The archbishop apologizes

On Thursday, May 23, Richard Ostling of the Associated Press called to ask what I made of the "Weakland story." What Weakland story? Ostling then e-mailed the first accounts. On ABC’s "Good Morning America," a man had claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the Milwaukee archbishop, something that Weakland subsequently denied. A letter written by the archbishop in 1980 indicated that Weakland, then in his early fifties, was withdrawing from a close and troubled relationship with Paul Marcoux, then in his early thirties. Seventeen years and several careers later, Marcoux demanded, and in 1998 obtained, from Weakland and the Milwaukee archdiocese, a "confidential" civil settlement of $450,000 to cease all litigation regarding matters in which the sexual was thrown in with breach of contract, "reckless hiring," etc., etc. Marcoux agreed to refrain from all publicity about these matters and return all related letters and documents. As even the ABC reporter noted, the transaction had the appearance of blackmail.

I found all these revelations incredible; at the same time, I felt a terrible sadness. Early Thursday afternoon, I sent Ostling this comment:

"It seems that every day Catholics are asked to make up their minds on matters about which we have only small glimpses of the truth. This is the case today with the story about Rembert Weakland.

"I have long admired Archbishop Weakland. He has written...

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.