Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Better shred than read

The recent report that Weakland shredded copies of sex abuse reports, documents say doesn't surprise me. The Washington Post reported in 2002 that our Archdiocese had insisted that documents produced in connection with a lawsuit be shredded "because they showed how much money it had spent on treatment, litigation and settlements related to sex abuse".

Our Archdiocese now reports those amounts, but the leadership doesn't make it easy to believe their hearts aren't still with the shredder.

Update: The following are being referred to as the Archdiocese's "talking points" in response to the story. (via SNAP)
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



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I normally agree with you but the JS got this wrong in a weird way and it's disappointing you got hooked into it. This really is a non story. Documents were shredded as any company shreds documents and keeps the most essential. There was no expectation, legally or otherwise, that these documents would ever be needed to be kept. So, why keep them? Was the diocese expected to keep every single page that it ever sees? That's not even close to realistic.

I'm no fan of the former archbishop but I question your judgment on this. This isn't a story worth acknowledging.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Terrence Berres said...

You write "Documents were shredded as any company shreds documents and keeps the most essential." That could be true, but the story doesn't indicate that's what's going on here. I haven't, so far, seen our Archdiocese pointing to a then-existing document destruction policy.

Logs about priests who were an ongoing problem sound like something that would be kept long-term by somebody. If the vicar's originals were maintained, then I agree that shredding the Archbishop's FYI copy wouldn't be the story as reported.

In that case we are, or would be, left with wondering why the Archbishop would shred his copy before, rather then after, discussing the report with the vicar. Saying he didn't want them in his office sounds suspicious and saying he'd "try to remember anything that is quite serious and important" sounds irresponsible.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

I have to agree with Anony, subject to your objection that there SHOULD be originals someplace...

Rembert may be dissembling about elements of the story; so what?

He knew then and knows now that there were a number of predators on his payroll.

The story is a hit-job.

12:59 PM  

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