By Hilary White
May 12, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Headlines have appeared throughout the media this week announcing that the former archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, admits in his soon-to-be published autobiography that he is a homosexual. Weakland told reporters that the forthcoming book will describe how his homosexuality “came to life in my own self, how I suppressed it, how it resurrected again.”
But the revelation will come as no surprise to anyone who remembers the scandal surrounding the bishop’s 2002 retirement, says Michael Rose, the well-known author of “Good Bye Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church,” who did extensive research on Weakland for the book.
“It certainly comes as no surprise to me – or to those truly familiar with the former Archbishop of Milwaukee – that he identifies himself as ‘gay,’” Rose told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) today. “The revelations of his ‘love letters’ to a male college student a few years ago already gave a pretty good indication of his sexual leanings.”
“What is most disappointing,” said Rose, “is that his sexual perversions and obsessions colored the way he led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, turning it during his long tenure there into a bastion of liberalism that encouraged dissent from the teachings of the Church on sexual issues and a host of others. Gay ministry and radical feminism were welcome while orthodoxy was maligned.”
Titled, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop,” the former archbishop’s book, set to be released next month, relates in part the story of the $450,000 payoff, from diocesan coffers, to former Marquette University theology student, Paul Marcoux who had accused Weakland of sexual assault. It was later revealed that Marcoux and Weakland had engaged in a mutually consensual homosexual relationship ended by Weakland in 1980.
The revelation of the pay-off came at the time Weakland offered his retirement letter to the Vatican in April 2002, as mandated by canon law, upon reaching his 75th birthday. The Vatican accepted his retirement over a month later, after the scandal came to light.
Weakland, who was widely described as one of the most liberal Catholic bishops in the US, had originally claimed that the money had come from speaking fees, gifts and honorariums over 25 years. In a speech given at the time of his retirement, Weakland said, “In my remaining years, I will continue to contribute to the archdiocese whatever I can, and, of course, the archdiocese will receive whatever effects I own on my death.”
Weakland, now 82, said that he will donate the proceeds of his memoirs to the Catholic Community Foundation.
During his episcopal career, Weakland held a variety of key positions in the US hierarchy, including chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc Committee on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy. As a liturgical expert and musician, he was a leading figure in the US Church’s ruling liberal elite that worked to suppress traditional forms of music and liturgy.
The memoirs also speak of the homosexual sex abuse scandal that came to light the same year. In a videotaped deposition released last November, Weakland admitted having returned predatory homosexual priests to active ministry without alerting parishioners or police.
Weakland, who remains a bishop in good standing in the Catholic Church, commented on the abuse scandals to the Associated Press, “I refused to let myself become a victim and refused to let myself become angry.”
Philip Lawler, an author and Editor of Catholic World News and Catholic World Report, told LSN today that, indeed, “Weakland is far from being a victim in the sex abuse scandals.”
“What is truly astonishing and deeply offensive, is the archbishop’s suggestion to a reporter that he wanted to avoid becoming a ‘victim’ of the sex-abuse scandal. By shuffling priests who were known to be predators, and by misappropriating diocesan funds, he acted as a leading victimizer, not a victim.”
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has released a public statement about the book, saying, “The book will undoubtedly spark a variety of emotions in Catholics throughout south-eastern Wisconsin. Some people will be angry about the book, others will support it.
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues to pray for the needs and intentions of all those who experienced this difficult time.”
According to a document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, published in November 2005, men with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies cannot be admitted to the priesthood. “One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” the instruction said.
The Vatican instruction was widely perceived as being, in part, a response to the clergy sex abuse crisis. Statistics have shown that the vast majority of sex-abuse victims – between 80 and 90% – were adolescent males.