The New York Times is trying to shift the blame from the local bishops who were directly involved, to the Vatican, which was only indirectly involved, and even then, they were only asked to get involved 20 years later. And yet the Times has basically lied its rear end off about the whole thing, trying to make it seem as if Bishop Weakland was trying to protect the children, and the Vatican was trying to frustrate his attempts.
Nothing could be further from the truth. So, the question is, why is the Times engaging in this blatantly misleading crusade?
By the mid-1980s, it was an open secret that [Father] Pecore was using Greg, a student at the Mother of Good Counsel School, as a sex toy. Greg says that other priests knew, as well as teachers and school officials. “My mother used to call up at the rectory and they would say that I was not there, and she would ride by and see my bike out front and know I was at the rectory.”
In July 1984, one of the school’s teachers had become so alarmed that he wrote a letter informing Archbishop Weakland that a priest at the school was taking young boys to his private bedroom, one at a time, suggesting that he was abusing the youngsters. He urged Weakland to do something “before it goes public.”
Weakland’s response: a threat. He wrote that “any libelous material found in your letter will be scrutinized carefully by our lawyers.”
Frustrated, the teacher and two others continued to warn about Pecore’s behavior. All three teachers were fired. In a lawsuit filed several years later, the three teachers say they were fired because they had tried to warn Weakland about what was happening at their school.
There is no evidence that Weakland took any other action in response to the warnings. Instead, the teachers later said, the church “conspired to silence this situation and to terminate” the whistleblowers.
In early 1987, Father Pecore was charged with sexual assault. He was later sentenced to a year in jail. (Several years later, after he was charged with molesting another boy, he was given a 12-year prison sentence.) The archdiocese also agreed to pay Greg and his family $595,000 in an out-of-court settlement.
Weakland insisted that the agreement be kept secret. “It was the archdiocese’s idea to seal it,” Greg later wrote a Milwaukee judge, “and when our family saw the clause in the agreement that it was to be sealed, we strongly objected.”
Greg rejects the idea that the secrecy was designed to protect him: “If the archdiocese wanted to protect me, they would have not put me through all the hassles they did.”
Weakland, however, wanted the last word. In a column published in the archdiocese’s newspaper, the archbishop suggested that the adolescent victims were not so “innocent” after all. “Some of them,” Weakland wrote at the time, “can be sexually very active and aggressive and often quite streetwise.”
Even back in 1988, prosecutors were stunned by Weakland’s victim-must-share-the-blame attitude. The head of Milwaukee’s sensitive crimes unit said he was “disappointed and saddened” by Weakland’s comments, noting that Milwaukee ‘s archbishop was either “failing or choosing to ignore the obvious power differential that exists between a priest and child.”
Then-assistant district attorney (and now judge) John DiMotto said that he had never known a case where a child had enticed a priest.
And then there is this: Weakland routinely shredded reports about priest-abusers. How come the Times ignored all of this and tried to slime the Pope instead?
That’s the real question.