Four Priests to Leave Active Ministry Because of Past Contact with Minors - August 21, 2002

Archdiocese of Milwaukee
August 21, 2002

No Priest with Any Substantiated Incident of Sexual Abuse Remains in Active Ministry

Bishop Richard J. Sklba, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has taken steps asking three priests to leave their active ministry positions at parishes in the Archdiocese because of past incidents of inappropriate sexual behavior involving minors, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced August 20. In addition, a fourth priest was restricted from any active ministry on July 22, 2002, because of his past history of sexual contact with a minor. With these actions, no priest with a substantiated incident of sexual abuse or inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, serves in an any active ministry position in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Of the four priests, three were among the six priests originally provided to the Special Commission appointed by former Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., to review archdiocesan procedures and files of priests with past history of sexual abuse involving minors. The fourth priest was one of additional questionable cases that arose after the original six cases were sent to the commission for review.

The priests now leaving their assignments are:

Franklyn Becker, previously without a ministry assignment, but active as a weekend help-out is now fully restricted from any priestly ministry as of July 22, 2002.

James M. Godin, currently pastor of St. Patrick's parish, Whitewater, Wis., will leave the parish effective Aug. 26, 2002, at which time he will cease any priestly ministry.

Daniel J. Massie, currently a team member of St. Michael parish, St. Patrick parish, St. Peter parish, all in Beaver Dam, Wis., will leave the parishes effective Aug. 26, 2002, at which time he will cease any priestly ministry.

Jerome A. Wagner, currently a team member at Holy Family parish, Fond du Lac, Wis., will leave the parish effective Aug. 26, 2002, at which time he will cease any priestly ministry.

Becker, Massie and Wagner were three of the original six cases sent to the commission, along with David J. Hanser, Michael G. Krejci and Thomas A. Trepanier. Hanser is now retired. Krejci left his parish, St. Therese in Eagle, Wis., on June 25, 2002. Trepanier resigned from active ministry and left his parish, St. Dominic in Brookfield, Wis., effective May 1, 2002.

Information about Godin's case was sent to the Special Commission in early May after Archdiocesan officials continued their review of priest files. After the U.S. Bishops meeting in June, Godin initiated contact with the Archdiocesan to begin the process for leaving his parish.

"These are serious decisions and the Archdiocese does not make them lightly," said Archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski. "While the Archdiocese always takes action with appropriate foundation, these decisions also reflect implementation of the Charter adopted by the U.S. Bishops this past June. Out of respect for the privacy of all involved, the Archdiocese will not make public any additional information surrounding individual cases at this time."

The Special Commission is expected to complete its work and issue its final report in mid-September. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has stated that finding and caring for victims of sexual abuse is its primary concern. The Archdiocese is compiling a complete listing of priests with past credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors and will work through parishes to make the names of past offenders public so that any additional victims of sexual abuse can feel safe coming forward to report their circumstances.

For the parishes involved, the following decisions have been made.

At St. Patrick parish, Whitewater, Wis., Rev. Daniel J. Sanders, currently pastor of St. Benedict parish, Fontana, Wis., will become temporary administrator of St. Patrick's, while remaining pastor of St. Benedict. Fr. David J. Braun, a retired diocesan priest, will say Mass at the parish and provide other sacramental ministry.

At St. Michael, St. Patrick and St. Peter parishes, all in Beaver Dam, Wis., Rev. William W. Key remains as moderator of the parish team serving those three parishes. The vacant team position will be listed by the Archdiocese's clergy personnel office and filled as soon as possible.

Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac, Wis., is currently served by a team of five priests. The vacant team position will not be filled at this time, leaving four priests to serve the parish.


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