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Archbishop Listecki urges victims to report abuse to civil authorities

Catholic World News - February 16, 2010

In an op-ed published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Archbishop Jerome Listecki urges abuse victims to report abuse directly to civil authorities.

“When I was ordained a priest in 1975, I never imagined I would be publicly apologizing for the criminal and sinful actions of priests who abused children,” the archbishop writes. “These crimes go against everything the priesthood and the Catholic Church represents. It is a horror we can never erase and for which we will always atone. As a representative of the Church, I apologize to victims/survivors and their families and promise to strive for healing and resolution.”

“As diocesan bishop, I also want to know of every report of sexual abuse of a minor because of the commitment I have made under the U.S. Bishops' Charter-- to hold perpetrators accountable and remove them from any public ministry, regardless of whether any criminal prosecution can occur,” he added.

Archbishop Listecki, who served as Bishop of La Crosse from 2004 to 2009, has come under fire because under his formemr diocese’s abuse-reporting policy, victims are asked to report incidents of alleged abuse to the diocese, which in turn reports them to civil authorities.

“There has been confusion about policies in the Diocese of La Crosse,” Archbishop Listecki added. “I have encouraged the diocesan administrator to more directly state the diocese's child abuse reporting policies and to post them on its Web site and in its newspaper. The La Crosse Diocesan Child Sexual Abuse Review Board met Monday to review this suggestion and directed those clarifications be made.”

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