Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weakland pro and con

Earlier this month, this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Archbishop Emeritus Weakland's latest attempt to move to a monastery out east drew some letters to the editor.

One was from Father Ed Eschweiler, raising two points, the first that Weakland did good things.

"His weekly homilies at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Sunday mornings and his weekly Herald of Hope column in the Catholic Herald were outstanding examples of teaching."
You can judge how outstanding for yourself. Some of his homilies which were available at his namesake website can be downloaded (in Real Audio format) at the Internet Archive. A few of his Milwaukee Catholic Herald columns are also at the Internet Archive, and many were collected in All God's People (1985), available at Amazon.

The book, by the way, could have been outstanding as blogging material if that technology had been available decades earlier. Like on the liturgical reform.

"One of the prime considerations affecting the renewal of the liturgy was the felt need to weed out all those excessive accretions which had overlaid the basic form of the Mass until it became almost unrecognizable. Now we seem to be adding new things so that we might soon be back where we started from." (page 157)
Or looking ahead.
"The other set of questions which will be a constant part of the agenda till 2000 and beyond involves human sexuality. I am not one for 'changing the rules' at this moment." (pages 204-05)
Fr. Eschweiler continues,
"He was a champion of women's rights to whatever is possible in the Catholic Church at this time."
It almost sounds like Archbishop Weakland was and Fr. Eschweiler is trying to talk about something without actually saying it.

His final examples have something of a the bottom of the barrel quality.

"He gave a voice to the laity in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and to the priests in the Priests' Senate, now called the Council of Priests and in a three-day annual spring assembly of all priests. The high point in this for many of us was the final morning session, where he answered questions previously submitted."
Before an audience of our own diocesan priests, he didn't take questions from the floor?

Father has another point.

"The second addition I would make has to do with what should be our response to his failures."
Which he says should be forgiveness. Wait, there's more.
"I realize that the terrible injuries afflicted by the sexual abuse of children are deep and long-lasting and surely beyond my appreciation. Even so, I pray that these victim survivors someday can say what God said to the Prophet Isaiah: Your sins I remember no more (Is. 43:24)."
Some victim survivors have indicated that it would help if our Cathedral wasn't plastered with reminders, specifically Archbishop Weakland's name and image.

That point is raised by Thomas Lindemann, who wrote to say Weakland deserves no honors.

"I was appalled and horrified that a farewell luncheon was being planned for retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland."
I've heard Fr. Eschweiler was organizing that event; if so, he didn't mention it in his own letter. But I digress from Mr. Lindemann's letter.
"I call upon the archdiocese to remove the Weakland plaque from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist."
You can see the plaque he refers to in this Catholic New Agency report on the controversy surrounding it. In addition, one of the Cathedral buildings in named the Weakland Center. Last I saw, the Cathedral now also houses a life-size bronze bust of Archbishop Weakland by the same artist, commissioned by our Archdiocese in the 1990s. Here is its clay stage at the Internet Archive.

Not at the Cathedral, but on the topic, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Sustaining Fund, a private charity, used $2 million to endow chairs in Archbishop Weakland's honor at two universities in Rome, see the Milwaukee Journal's report of November 22, 1997 archived at Google newspapers.

In the Catholic News Agency report about the plaque controversy, our Archdiocese's Communications Director, Julie Wolf, said,

"Our priority remains to work toward healing and resolution. Identifying ongoing sources of pain is important to that process."
The plaque was identified as one such source. Then nothing was done about it. Notice Wolf doesn't say sources of pain are identified so they can be removed. Instead, based on the other things Wolf said, when sources of pain are identified, our Archdiocese will then tell those in pain why they shouldn't feel it. Which seems to be Fr. Eschweiler's position, too.


  1. All of these terrible things do not even get at the heart of some things Weakland did, but have not yet been reported. Thank goodness there is a God above!

  2. My wish is that, out of humility and compassion, Archbishop Weakland would ask that plaques and other reminders with his name or image would be removed from the Cathedral....and also, out of humility he would choose in freedom to live a quiet life of prayer, no longer celebrating Mass or any other public activities....and as for all of us, that we could "dig down deep" and ask Christ to leave any judgement to Him...."The Father of all mercies".

  3. Fr a nutter.

  4. He did spend $25,000 in 1995 to convert his Saturn to electric power, Channel 4 reported.


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