A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial for Archbishop Weakland, OSB, with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki presiding was celebrated at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee on August 30, 2022 at 4.30 p.m.
It is reported by more than one news outlet that Fr. James Connell, a retired priest and the former Vice-Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee remarked that “Archbishop Rembert Weakland deserves no honour or praise” and that he asked for priests of the archdiocese to stay away from Weakland’s funeral liturgy, adding that their attendance “would put salt in the wounds of victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse”.
Using any yardstick, the deceased Archbishop Weakland, OSB, (born April 2, 1927) was one of the most controversial and corrupt of the American Catholic hierarchy of the past three decades. The call and observations of Fr. Connell are courageous and well-founded.
In May 2002, Weakland (who had been the Ordinary since 1977 admitted there were six (6) priests within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with histories of sexually abusing children. Weakland further admitted to shredding the paperwork that would have established that clerics within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee were guilty of child abuse. He also acknowledged that he failed to alert local police about the recidivist tendencies of these clerics; thereby, Weakland admitted his own inexcusable complicity in the cover-up of clerical misconduct.
There can be no doubt Archbishop Weakland was a gifted individual who purportedly spoke six languages to a very high standard. In 1963, he was elected Archabbot of St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He was then elected as the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, in 1967. He was appointed Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
Weakland abused his episcopal authority by having sex with Mr. Paul Marcoux, a young man who was discerning a vocation to the priesthood. Marcoux claimed he was date-raped by Weakland, however, the archbishop said the sexual activity was consensual. What is not in dispute is that Weakland authorised the payment of $450,000 to buy the silence of Marcoux from archdiocesan funds.
When Weakland was unable to meet the extortionary demands of Marcoux for further hush money, Marcoux went public. As a result, in 2002, Archbishop Weakland was forced to resign in disgrace. Weakland then wrote a self-serving autobiography (2009’s A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church) in which he attempted to justify his own misbehaviour. In this memoir, he admitted to a number of other gay relationships, but washed his hands of his lamentable leadership of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
When Weakland was unable to meet the extortionary demands of Marcoux for further hush money, Marcoux went public. As a result, in 2002, Archbishop Weakland was forced to resign in disgrace. Weakland then wrote a self-serving autobiography (2009’s A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church) in which he attempted to justify his own misbehaviour. In this memoir, he admitted to a number of other gay relationships, but washed his hands of lamentable leadership of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
I am lead to believe that despite all his unacceptable behaviour, I am led to believe that Archbishop Weakland is going to be given the honour of being buried among the Archabbots of St. Vincent Archabbey. Even in death there is no accountability for those who been elevated to the episcopate; they can do what they like with impunity.
If any other priest or religious had behaved in a similar manner to Weakland they would have been instantly disciplined and dismissed from the clerical state following a canonical process that can be likened to a kangaroo court in a Banana Republic. Therefore, in the Church of today, Weakland, is a demonstrable example of the clear division between the true “children” of the Church (Ordinaries) and its “red-headed stepchildren” (simple priests/religious without jurisdiction). No wonder there are no vocations to the priesthood, when the monstrous hypocrisy of an Archbishop Weakland is honoured even in death!