Keating Says He Was Smeared

By Rachel Zoll
Boston Globe
October 1, 2003

Frank Keating, the former Oklahoma governor who resigned this year as head of a watchdog panel on clerical sex abuse, has told a conservative Roman Catholic magazine that a clergyman tried to undermine him by circulating a letter that accused him of having an affair.

Keating said the letter, which eventually made its way to top American church leaders, also claimed he never attended Mass.

"I was stunned and outraged," Keating said in an article he wrote for the October issue of the magazine Crisis. "Every word was a lie."

Keating recounted the episode as one of the events that led to his June resignation as chairman of the National Review Board.

US bishops formed the lay panel in 2001 to monitor compliance with their new discipline policy on abuse, but Keating's pointed criticism led some Catholic leaders to question whether he should be chairman. He stepped down after angering many in the church by saying bishops were as secretive as the Mafia.

Keating, through his spokesman Dan Mahoney, declined to elaborate on the article.

Keating, who has been married for 31 years, did not reveal the name of the person who wrote the letter but said it was "purportedly written by the vicar general of Oklahoma City, a priest and the diocese's number-two official."

The Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger is listed in the 2002 Official Catholic Directory as vicar general in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. The Rev. James A. Kastner is listed as co-vicar general.

Weisenburger released a statement last night saying Kastner is in a nursing home and "could not have been involved." Regarding his own role, Weisenberger said only, "I am unaware of Governor Keating contacting Archbishop [Eusebius] Beltran or myself about a letter purported to have been written by the vicar general of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese to the Vicar General of the Chicago Archdiocese, whom I do not know."

Asked in a phone interview whether he was denying having written the letter, Weisenburger declined to comment further.

Keating denied having suggested skipping Mass; he said he suggested Catholics attend Mass and donate money in dioceses where bishops supported reform.


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