Complaints against Late Pastor Aired
Priest May Have Been 'Notorious Pedophile,' Church Reps Say
By Marie Rohde
Journal Sentinel Online
June 6, 2002
Twin Lakes - Father George Nuedling, the late pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, may have been "a notorious pedophile," Milwaukee Archdiocese representatives told about 200 people attending a meeting at the church Wednesday night.
Many of those in the pews came to defend the man who served as the community's spiritual leader from the mid-1960s until shortly before his death in 1993.
But feelings on the other side also have been strong. Someone recently desecrated the priest's grave by scribbling "Pedophile, rot in hell" in marker on the headstone.
Archdiocese Department of Parishes director Maureen Gallagher, Catholic Charities executive director Diane Knight and psychologist Barbara Reinke organized Wednesday's meeting to deal with abuse issues that have been widely discussed in this Kenosha County community of about 5,200.
Gallagher told the crowd that the first allegation the archdiocese received against Nuedling about sexual abuse came in 1986, when a man alleged that the priest had abused him and possibly his brother in the early 1960s at St. Rita's Catholic Church in West Allis. Gallagher said Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba confronted the priest, who acknowledged the misconduct but said it occurred before he received alcoholism treatment. The victim did not ask that the priest be removed, but Sklba ordered that the priest never be alone with minors, Gallagher said.
A second complaint was brought to the archdiocese in 1993, and Nuedling resigned after being confronted with the allegations.
In March, another complaint was brought forward regarding an incident at St. Rita's in the 1960s, and more recently a man who had attended St. John's as a teenager came forward with what Gallagher described as credible information of 30 or more victims.
Gallagher said she and the others were looking for other victims of the priest. "If you know of a victim, we want you to know that we want to help," Gallagher said.
Reinke is the director of Project Benjamin, the program the church established in 1989 to help victims of sexual abuse by the clergy. She said the church and society didn't recognize how harmful sexual abuse was to children until the past decade or so.
She said she understood it was hard for some to recognize that the priest had committed such evil acts.
A woman in the gathering wanted to know whether the parish could be assured that future pastors assigned to the parish don't have histories of pedophilia. Reinke said there was no way of screening for pedophiles but that in the future, anyone credibly accused of such misconduct would be removed from the ministry.
Of six priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese who had been involved in the active ministry and have had credible allegations against them, only two remain in their assignments, Gallagher said. She said the priests are in the process of telling their congregations. Another has retired, and the other three have left the ministry.
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