Families Not Pleased with Bishop's Apology for Erickson

By Raphael Fliss
CBS 5 [Wisconsin]
November 2, 2005

The bishop who was in charge of the Rev. Ryan Erickson apologized last night for Erickson's actions.

A judge has ruled that Erickson likely killed two people three years ago at a funeral home in Hudson. Erickson committed suicide at that church last December, just days after authorities questioned him in the murders of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison.

Bishop Raphael Fliss faced parishioners at St Mary's church in Hurley, Wis. last night. Fliss tried to urge his parishioners to look to the future, but they urged him to take responsibility of his priests. At the meeting, the bishop admitted he failed and took responsibility for the actions of Erickson.

"I look back on it and I have to say that I certainly failed. I should have gone further and inquired more," Fliss said.

However, the family of Dan O'Connell was not pleased with Fliss' apology, calling it a "slap in the face."

"The Bishop didn't really address a thing," the family's statement said. "His comments seemed ridiculous and phony and forced. In our view, he lacked sincerity and concern, and offered no concrete steps that might lead to healing or prevention."

Fliss apparently called the parents of James Ellison on Monday and apologized for not contacting them sooner. He told the family that he didn't realize that they didn't live in Hudson and that they weren't Catholic, Ellison's family told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church where Erickson was the pastor to gauge parishioners' reactions to the Bishop's apology.

"I think it was about time he said something," said parishioner Bill Loughney.

"I was expecting something sooner or later," said parishioner Gerry Conley. "I guess I am satisfied with what he said."

Earlier this week, O'Connell and Ellison's families requested an audience with Pope Benedict XVI to talk about the murders.


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