Caledonia Priest Offers Counseling in Wake of Child Sexual Abuse Details
By Luke Feuerherm
July 8, 2013
CALEDONIA — An upbeat Sunday Mass at St. Louis Catholic Church in Caledonia came to a somber conclusion as the Rev. Mark Danczyk addressed clergy sex abuse claims contained in documents released last week.
Speaking to his congregation, Danczyk explained the current status of the lawsuit involving his parish, offered spiritual and professional counseling to parishioners and decried acts of sexual abuse against children.
“I firmly believe in my heart that there is a special place in hell for anyone who abuses a child,” Danczyk told his congregation Sunday.
Last Monday, an attorney released thousands of documents that detail allegations of child sex abuse made against 42 Milwaukee Archdiocese priests, including five local priests accused of abusing children in Racine County.
Among those accused priests with ties to the county was former St. Louis Catholic Church pastor Daniel Budzynski, who has admitted to more than 30 instances of abuse, and is accused of about 20 more, according to the records.
Church officials were aware of that history long before he arrived at the parish in 1984, records show. Budzynski was reassigned about three years after he arrived.
Danczyk has repeatedly refused to speak with the media about Budzynski because he said he has been advised by attorneys not to comment on the matter due to an ongoing lawsuit involving his parish and Budzynski.
But Sunday, after hymns, prayers and the baptism of a young girl, Danczyk decided to take up the topic with his congregation during announcements.
“What you have read or may read in these documents can be deeply troubling and very disturbing on many different levels,” said Danczyk, encouraging those who need help with their feelings on the matter to feel free to speak with him. “Also, after reading the material, if you would benefit from the help of a professional to sort out your feelings, I can also refer you to professional psychologists who are available to help.”
Outside the church after Mass, parishioner Suzanne Mutchie, 73, of Racine, explained her mixed feelings on the matter.
“I think that this whole cover-up, this whole sexual abuse thing is absolutely inexcusable,” said Mutchie, who likened her church to a family. You don’t disown your family if one person is a wrongdoer ... I’m still proud to be a Catholic, but I’m very ashamed of what these people have done.”
During announcements, Danczyk also updated the congregation on the status of the lawsuit, something he said he does whenever there is a new development. The judge in the case, he said, has agreed to postpone the scheduled jury trial because of the recently released documents and will review the case again on Dec. 2.
He plans to remain at the church until the current lawsuit is resolved, despite already serving past the two six-year terms a priest would typically stay with a parish.
Since last week’s document release, Danczyk said he has been contacted by a number of local television and newspaper outlets as well as Time magazine.
While continuing to take his attorney’s advice to not speak with the media, he did welcome The Journal Times to Mass as part of his “open-door” policy. He told parishioners that they were welcome to speak with the media as long as it was not at the church.