Lawsuit claims racial discrimination in treatment of clergy abuse survivors

WDJT-TV, Ch. 58 [Milwaukee WI]

June 8, 2021


We’ve heard the reports of alleged and confirmed sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re also learning about racial disparities in the treatment of clergy abuse victims.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 8, the lawyer for a Black clergy abuse victim accused the Franciscans of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Jackson Mississippi, of discrimination. 

He said both churches ignored Raphael Love’s repeated claim of abuse by former Franciscan Brother Paul West. 

“His life has been altered and his life is more trying and difficult, even in this environment, because of the abuse,” said Phillip Aaron, Love’s attorney. “And he’s suffered the loss of the enjoyment of life.”

In addition to wanting proper compensation for Love, they want to raise awareness about how far more accused clergy get transferred to predominantly Black parishes than predominantly white parishes. 

In a statement Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said:

“Religious orders are independent entities with their own governance and leadership structure and are not under the supervision of the archdiocese. While the allegations are horrible, and we will certainly pray for healing for those involved, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee would expect to be dismissed from this lawsuit.”

– Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff to the archbishop

Anyone who has information about the church’s response to abuse, is encouraged to report the claims at 1-877-222-2620.