Sklba Apologizes to Parishioners for Abuse by Former Priest
Auxiliary bishop asks victims to come forward, admits own role in allowing 'culture of silence'
November 29, 2002
Kenosha - Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba apologized to parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church in Twin Lakes for the sexual abuse of children by a former priest there.
In a letter sent to all members of St. John Parish, Sklba admitted his own role in allowing the abuse by Father George Nuedling and asked victims to come forward.
"I accept my own share in responsibility for the culture of silence in the church over such actions in the past," Sklba wrote.
Nuedling's actions were "inexcusable, and indeed morally and criminally wrong. The truth must be acknowledged before any healing can occur," Sklba wrote.
The archdiocese has acknowledged Nuedling's abuse, but victims tore into Sklba at listening sessions in Milwaukee last month, claiming his reaction to allegations of sexual abuse was inadequate during his many years in the church's hierarchy.
The archdiocese has received several complaints of abuse by Nuedling, who died in 1994 after about 25 years at the parish, archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski said.
He said some parishioners have been angry about the allegations, because Nuedling did many positive things for the community.
"It's been hard for some people to accept, that in spite of their view of the good things that he had done as a pastor and a priest, there were other things that he had done that weren't good," Topczewski said.
"We wanted to make it very clear, and especially for those who may be victim survivors, that we believe you and we are acknowledging it very clearly."
Sklba, who knew about allegations of abuse starting in 1986, also met with parishioners after the listening sessions.
Jim Gillespie, 47, of Chicago, who said he was abused by Nuedling, said the letter helps.
"This is an important recognition by the archdiocese at its highest level that this did indeed occur, and it's validation that it's OK for other victims to come forward and say they need help," Gillespie said.
Sklba said mere apology for the abuse is not sufficient, and all the church's energy must go into "truth and healing."
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