Archbishop Weakland dies at age 95

Carl Bunderson   By Carl Bunderson for CNA


Former archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rembert Weakland kneels and prays as he is given a standing ovation of support after he apologized publicly for sexual indiscretions during a prayer service 31 May, 2002 in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Weakland admitted to having a relationship with and paying USD 450,000 to former seminary student Paul Marcous. / Tannen Maury/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, Aug 22, 2022 / 13:50 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Rembert Weakland, a Benedictine who served as Archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to 2002, died overnight on Monday.

Weakland died after a long illness the night of Aug. 21-22 at Clement Manor in Greenfield, a Milwaukee suburb.

The archbishop was a progressive who had advocated for the priestly ordination of women.

His resignation as Milwaukee’s archbishop came after revelations that the archdiocese had paid $450,000 to silence Paul J. Marcoux, an adult male seminarian with whom he had a sexual relationship.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee commented Aug. 22 that “For a quarter of a century, Archbishop Weakland led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his leadership embodied his Benedictine spirit. His pastoral letter, ‘Eucharist without Walls,’ evoked his love for the Eucharist and its call to service. During his time, he emphasized an openness to the implementation of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including the role of lay men and women in the Church, the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, Ecumenical dialog, and addressing societal issues, especially economic justice. May he now rest in peace.”

Weakland was born in 1927 in Patton, Pennsylvania, and attended the minor seminary run by Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. He was professed as a member of the Order of Saint Benedict at the abbey in 1946, and took solemn vows in 1949. He was ordained a priest in 1951.

A music scholar, he was made a consultor to the Consilium, the committee which interpreted Sacrosanctum Concilium and which was responsible for preparing the revised Order of Mass following the Second Vatican Council, in 1964. He was made a member of the Consilium in 1968.

In 1967, he was appointed abbot primate of the Order of Saint Benedict.

He was appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977, and consecrated a bishop that year. He served there until his retirement at age 75 in 2002.

His own sexual abuse, and his poor handling of abuse by other priests, led to the renaming, in 2019, of the Weakland Center, which holds the offices of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Weakland said he began having homosexual relationships after his episcopal consecration, and he dissented from the Church’s teaching on the immorality of sodomy.

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  1. Typical of homosexuals (98+ percent), he was also pro-abortion. It could frequently be comical the way he would dodge a direct question on the matter, immediately going into the other-issuses-too mode. When he once held a “listening session” of women in his diocese open to the press expecting all the usual griping about female ordination and evil patriarchy, etc…, he instead got a bunch of women speaking of their pride that the Church defended the unborn. Weakland was embarrassed and apologized to the press that so many women “not representing true women’s concerns” showed up. God have mercy on his soul.

  2. The damage Weakland did to the archdiocese of Milwaukee and the wider Church was incalculable. He was an open dissenter and heretic long before his homosexuality was confirmed (although, let’s face it, everyone knew). His personal vindictiveness very much resembles that of Cupich. The largely admirable record of Pope John Paul II was seriously stained by allowing this monster to remain in a position of power for those many years. Archbishop Listecki likewise disgraces himself by whitewashing Weakland’s record and career with this undeserved and dishonest tribute.

    • That he confessed his sins is what God wants us to do. The Lord asks us for obedience or confession. We know the better path.

      1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

      John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

      Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

      1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

      The Lord is merciful and remembers we are only flesh. We find our salvation in the God of Jacob, praise His holy and righteous name. Lord Jesus you have redeemed us and we are eternally grateful.

  3. I hope that Weakland made a full and sincere confession. If he publicly repented of his very public sins, I didn’t hear about it. Even after he was fully exposed, he resorted to lies and seIf-justification and remained defiant.

    If the Church is to ever renew itself, a direct reckoning with the myriad scandals that the hierarchy (e.g. Weakland) has inflicted or has allowed to be inflicted (e.g. the pre-Francis Vatican on it, must occur. The statement release by Listecki does just the opposite by lauding a man who did so much evil while his superiors, who should have stopped him quickly, neglected to do their duty.

    By all accounts, Weakland was notorious prior to being named bishop of Milwaukee. While I have no special knowledge of what it was like there in 1977, it is probably safe to say that the diocese was reeling from what was unleashed on the Church and society in the wake of the 1960s. Appointing someone with a reputation like his should have been unthinkable. Allowing him to reign for twenty-five years while he busied himself very openly in every manner of heresy and destruction was inexcusable. Portraying him in positive light on his passing is an insult to all those who suffered as a result of his misdeeds.

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