Special Report

Getaway Weakland

The disgraced Milwaukee archbishop had a long and distinguished record of tearing down his church.

By 6.3.02

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Does a burglar who runs his car into a wall deserve a round of applause for stopping? Former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland received a long standing ovation last Friday night at a Milwaukee prayer service after he apologized for the "inappropriate nature" of his "relationship with Mr. Paul Marcoux" -- the Marquette graduate student with whom Weakland had sex and then paid off with $450,000 of the faithful's money.

It didn't seem to faze the crowd that Weakland had played them for saps, using their resources as his personal piggy bank, all so that he could retain his power and prestige. Weakland's earlier claim about having paid the money back turns out to be bogus -- an admission he casually inserted into the middle of his mea culpa.

"In my mind, the money I had given the Archdiocese was more than the settlement amount. To my continued embarrassment, I now am told that is not true," he said. How much was Weakland off by in his "mind"? Only about $250,000.

One wonders what other salient facts Weakland's "mind" has scrambled. Did Weakland "date rape" Paul Marcoux, as the former graduate student contends? Weakland said no last week, but in his apology he obliquely admitted to harming Marcoux, and said that he settled with Marcoux "because of the claim that I had interfered with his ability to earn income." What does that mean? Do consensual relationships prevent people from going to work?

Maybe Marcoux is distorting the facts himself, but an archbishop capable of gross sacrilege and the violation of sacred vows is also capable of lying. Also, isn't it a little generous to assume that Weakland restricted himself to one homosexual lover? Homosexuality is not a hobby most bishops just happen to pick up for a short period in middle age.

But liberal Catholics pooh-pooh such obvious observations. Like the supporters of Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, they close their eyes to scandal in gratitude for "progressivism." Expect Weakland to hit the liberal Catholic speaking circuit in the coming years as a "victim" of pre-Vatican II repression. The scandal, we will be told, is not that a successor of the apostles conducted a homosexual affair and raided the resources of the Church to conceal it, but that such a talented homosexual couldn't serve "openly" in the Church and that the Church's "hypocrisy" forced him to cover his homosexuality up.

The truth is that Weakland should never have been made a priest, much less an archbishop, in the first place. The Holy See before Vatican II instructed orders, such as the Benedictines (of which Weakland was once the head abbot), never to ordain homosexuals: "Advancement of religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers."

But the church of Vatican II -- itching to substitute modern liberalism for Catholicism -- ignored this tradition. It ushered in homosexuals who viewed the Catholic Church as a homosexual fantasy camp and a commanding pulpit for left-wing politics.

In a Sunday story, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel expressed shock that Weakland could be so "indiscreet." Why? Hasn't the paper been following his rebellious career and his pro-homosexual statements?

Weakland just practiced what he preached. An anti-Catholic Catholic, far to the ideological left of Martin Luther, Weakland operated as a modernist revolutionary in the Church for decades, seeking to twist the Catholic faith to accommodate his personal whims. After Vatican II, he set out to make the American Catholic Church as liberal and dysfunctional as the world. He secularized the liturgy, called vices virtue, and traded piety for psychology and politics.

He held his own religion in contempt and for that received the kudos of the anti-Catholic press. He was the New Yorker bishop (the magazine once did a fawning profile of him), extending tolerance to everyone except members of his own communion. Pope John Paul II, he said, was a "ham actor," speaking in silly phrases like the "culture of death." Pro-lifers were "unloving."

Weakland also viewed himself as an authority on the just use of money. Long before he gave hush money to his homosexual lover, he would scold politicians for their irresponsible financial priorities.

Most people would call a man who enters an organization with hostility to its principles and schemes for personal and ideological gain a crook. Weakland called himself a reformer and sought to bar from the Church the very traditional Catholics who had sustained it. The man who rose to power through disobedience demanded obedience to his fraudulent form of Catholicism.

Some people now say he is a failure. On the contrary. He intended to tear down the traditional Church and he has succeeded magnificently.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.