MILWAUKEE — The names of two former Milwaukee archbishops have been removed from buildings for their alleged roles in covering up the sexual abuse of minors.
One by one, the letters that spell the last name of former archbishop William Cousins came down Tuesday after nearly 40 years on a large stone sign outside the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center to send a message to victims in the Catholic community.
“If these names have caused angst, anxiety, stress, hurt, harm for themselves, for their families, for those who have walked with them in this journey as they’ve moved forward from the abuse they’ve experienced, then removing these names is something that we want to do as a church,” said archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski.
Former archbishop Rembert Weakland’s name has also been taken off a building next to the Cathedral of St. John in downtown Milwaukee.
The church’s records show Cousins and Weakland reassigned priests after they received substantiated allegations of child sex abuse. Topczewski said the decision to remove the two names off buildings shows the church is holding itself accountable.
“Bishops share the blame very clearly in decisions that were made in the past,” he said.
Peter Isely of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said it’s about time.
“We’ve been asking for this for years,” Isely said.
Isely is a survivor himself. He was sexually assaulted as a child by a Wisconsin priest.
“That crime and what it did to me as a child, come from a very Catholic devout family, absolutely changed the course of my entire life,” he said.
Isely said he and other survivors deserved to be a part of the discussion.
“That crime and what it did to me as a child, come from a very Catholic devout family, absolutely changed the course of my entire life.” — Peter Isely of SNAP
“The archbishop and the archdiocese did not include survivors at all in this decision-making,” he said.
Topczewski said new names for the buildings have yet to be picked.