New mission …

Sheboygan Press

New mission: The Rev. James Connell has made it his duty to reach out to victims of clergy abuse

SHEBOYGAN — One day, the Rev. James Connell heard himself described as a party to a fraud who helped to cover up a notorious case of clergy sexual abuse.

That’s the day his whole life changed.

At the time, Connell was both pastor of St. Clement and Holy Family Catholic churches and a vice chancellor at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was looking into the sexual abuse case against Lawrence Murphy, who abused students at a Milwaukee-area school for the deaf beginning in the 1950s.

And on that day in 2009, members of a group called the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests stood on the steps of the archdiocese and demanded his removal from the review board investigating the case because, they said, he sent information about Murphy’s crimes to church officials instead of to the police.

That’s all he was required to do, but Connell went home and took a long look at himself. Now, he calls that moment his epiphany.

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