This comes as absolutely no surprise to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as well as others in southeastern Wisconsin.
Former Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland is gay.
That's no big deal. What was a big deal was that Weakland was dating and had a relationship with a man in the late '70s and early '80s. This was while he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
The Archdiocese paid out half a million dollars in hush money to his lover, Paul Marcoux, in 1998.
Then, Marcoux wanted more money. Eventually, in 2002, when the scandal erupted publicly, I found out that Weakland had an active social and sexual life.
Marcoux wanted $1 million from Weakland, meaning the Archdiocese, meaning me, for an 11-page love letter that Weakland had written to him in 1980.
Excerpts from the letter:
If I have great hesitancy in saying how I feel inside, I have even greater fear about writing about them. It all seems so permanent and irreversible that way. One of my traumatic memories during high school days was getting caught writing in my diary during study-hall rather than working and having the diary confiscated and read -- I felt sure -- by all the prefects. My mother's sage advice when I lamented about the injustice of it all was to warn me that I should not put down on paper what I would not want the whole world to read. But here goes anyway. It will make our walk less heavy -- or at least it will give you a jump on how I feel and a chance to reflect.
First of all, all this is far too heavy for me, but I suppose that is the pain of deep love. The whole experience of the last weeks -- and especially this week -- has been a purifying one but an exhausting one with wounds that will heal only with more trust and time.
Where to start? After our last visit at my place before you left for Athens, I knew our Nantucket dream was in trouble. Your two calls made that doubly clear. You had made me promise earlier not to withdraw, and I did want to make the trip, and I did need the rest and the atmosphere I felt sure it would provide. But how to open up to you? I was frightened to do so. I just hated to confront the whole confusing situation as I saw it from my limited emotional angle.
I am going to try now but I can't help but wonder -- will he read it to the end? Will he understand that regardless of what the words say, I am still always reiterating how deep my affection for him is? Will I just muddle the whole affair, make matters worse and regret ever trying? Love is better than valor, so here goes.
After that visit I knew how much you needed money to bring off that Christodrama project and how much you counted on me for it. Your anger was evident that I couldn't play the great patron. I guess that was interpreted as rejection of you. Once before you had placed it in those terms. ''If you don't have faith in the project, at least in me.'' Paul, I really have given you all that I personally possess. The $14,000 is really my personal limit: it was the money I got from my community when I became a bishop and I simply do not have private funds. What I can now do personally to help you will be minimal. I know you are pushing me for church money, for some sort of church support for the Midwest Institute of Christodrama.
I feel you are putting me in an impossible situation here. I consider all that church money as a sacred trust; it represents the offerings of faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it is all spent. There are hundreds of requests on my desk for funds for worthy causes, for inner city projects, to the elderly, to the handicapped, etc. Hardly a day goes past I don't have to turn down such projects. I simply do not see how I can authorize money for your project. It is not because I don't love you but just because I am not [illegible] of a project.
In all truth I do not see how you could possibly earn the kind of money you foresee, enough to live on in the style you are accustomed to, and still put any aside. I really felt that you were in for a sad awakening sooner or later down the road, and it would best come now before you are too deeply involved. I know that others less gifted and less qualified than you demand high prices but usually they are people with another [illegible] -- teaching, writing -- who made a name for themselves first. You seem to want to start at the end (that's because you are so perceptive and have such a unique general background) and seem to get bored with the necessary stages that cannot be avoided.
I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression I would able financially to carry the project. If I lead you on to that conclusion, I do deeply regret it. I also find it hard to believe -- and I refuse to do so but I wouldn't write this if a doubt did not gnaw within me -- that this money aspect was so vital to our friendship. Was our friendship to proceed or fall on my ability to provide? I don't want to think so. There is a hurt there that needs reassuring.
So, yeah. We know Weakland is gay. We know he wasn't celibate. We know he was stupid to trust Marcoux.
Love is blind, I guess.
The Associated Press is treating Weakland's admission like it's news. It's not.
A Roman Catholic archbishop who resigned in 2002 over a sex and financial scandal involving a man describes his struggles with being gay in an upcoming memoir about his decades serving the church.
Archbishop Rembert Weakland, former head of the Milwaukee archdiocese, said in an interview Monday that he wrote about his sexual orientation because he wanted to be candid about "how this came to life in my own self, how I suppressed it, how it resurrected again."
Called "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop," the book is set to be released in June.
"I was very careful and concerned that the book not become a Jerry Springer, to satisfy people's prurient curiosity or anything of this sort," Weakland told The Associated Press. "At the same time, I tried to be as honest as I can."
I think the 11-page letter to Marcoux and statements from Marcoux spelled things out quite clearly.
We had the Jerry Springer experience in 2002.
Does Weakland offer even more details in his book? If he does, then he absolutely is writing a tell-all. What should we expect? Soft porn accounts of his encounters?
What he calls honest is surely going to be titillating to some and disgusting to others.
Weakland stepped down soon after Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette University theology student, revealed in May 2002 that he was paid $450,000 to settle a sexual assault claim he made against the archbishop more than two decades earlier. The money came from the archdiocese.
Marcoux went public at the height of anger over the clergy sex abuse crisis, when Catholics and others were demanding that dioceses reveal the extent of molestation by clergy and how much had been confidentially spent to settle claims.
Weakland denied ever assaulting anyone. He apologized for concealing the payment. The Vatican says that men with "deep-seated" attraction to other men should not be ordained.
In an August 1980 letter that was obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Weakland said he was in emotional turmoil over Marcoux and that he had "come back to the importance of celibacy in my life." He signed the letter, "I love you."
The revelations rocked the Milwaukee archdiocese, which Weakland had led since 1977. He was a hero for liberal Catholics nationwide because of his work on social justice and other issues.
Weakland is no hero. He's a hypocrite.
And now he wants to profit from his affair and become the poster boy for unfaithful, fallen priests.
If Weakland wanted to have sexual relationships with men, then he chose the wrong line of work.
I don't care that Weakland is gay. I care that he was incredibly selfish and reckless. I care that the people of the Archdiocese trusted him and responded when he asked them to donate their hard-earned dollars to support the Archdiocese.
Supposedly, none of those donations went to pay for Weakland's hush money fund or legal expenses.
I don't buy that. The Archdiocese paid Marcoux. Money that was used to pay him off could have been applied to fund ministries and programs.
Our money paid off Weakland's lover. Our money has been used and will be used to pay victims of the sexual abuse scandal.
I hope all the profits from Weakland's tell-all will be used to pay us back.
I'm not comfortable with Weakland doing interviews to promote his book.
Does he have a book tour planned? Will there be book signing events? Will he go on the lecture circuit to plug his book?
What still bothers me is that Weakland never really apologized to us for his wrongdoing. It was half-hearted at best.
I think he's an arrogant, selfish man.
The archbishop, now 82, said he seriously considered the potential pain for the archdiocese of renewing attention to the scandal and thought about waiting "until I was dead" to have it published. But he decided to move ahead with the project.
"What I felt was that people who loved me as bishop here, when they read the book will continue to love me. The people who found it difficult, I hope will be helped a little bit by the book," he said.
I don't think Weakland should have waited until he was dead to have the book published. I wish he wouldn't have written the book at all. That would have been the right thing to do.
Instead, he's ripping off the scab, opening up the wound again. I don't want to relive the betrayal.
This is incredibly selfish of him.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee doesn't need this sort of attention. Weakland has to know that, but he doesn't care.
In a sign of the deep emotions still surrounding Weakland and his departure, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has released a public statement alerting local Catholics to the upcoming book.
Here's the statement from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee:
Archbishop Emeritus Rembert Weakland has chosen to write his memoirs, which will be published and available within the next few weeks. The book is called: A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop. In it, he reflects upon his experience as a bishop in the Catholic Church. In addition he recounts his relationship with Paul Marcoux and the events surrounding his retirement in 2002.
The book will undoubtedly spark a variety of emotions in Catholics throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Some people will be angry about the book, others will support it.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues to pray for the needs and intentions of all those who experienced this difficult time.
Weakland reminds me of Brett Favre -- childish, selfish, delusional, arrogant.
I wish he'd just go away. Enough already.
...The archbishop has been living in a retirement community near the Milwaukee archdiocese and plans to move to St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, N.J., this summer. He said he was not bitter about how the scandal had eclipsed his decades of work in the church.
"I refused to let myself become a victim and refused to let myself become angry," he said. "I want to take responsibility but I want to move on."
Weakland isn't bitter? Why should HE be bitter?
He screwed up. He broke his vows. He lied. People respected him and he betrayed them. This man of faith left a trail of broken people. That's his legacy.
Weakland is NOT a victim.
He's a victimizer.