Remarks of Archdiocese of Milwaukee Vicar General, Fr. William Kohler, to Parishioners of St. John Neumann
June 11, 2012
[Listen to Fr. Kohler’s remarks here: Church Announcement]
Remarks of Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Fr. William Kohler, transcribed from audio of address to parishioners of St. John Neumann in regard to the removal of Fr. John Schreiter
At the beginning of mass I introduced myself as vicar general for the archdiocese of Milwaukee and I am here on some archdiocesan business which is very painful…I will read a letter from the archbishop. An accusation has come forward accusing your pastor Fr. John Schreiter of sexual abuse of a minor. The accusation stems from three decades ago, very painful business, let me read the letter from the archbishop…
Fr. Kohler reads Archbishop Listecki’s statement
This is a shock and this is very difficult, let me add just a couple of comments. John and I were at seminary together, he’s two years younger than me, I am a pastor at St. Leonard’s in Muskego, and I am in the process of retiring, so this business could not come at a worse time for Father John or for this parish. I want to make sure that we are clear on a couple of things, number one that there are many things we don’t know, and so if you want to ask me a whole lot of questions… an investigation is just beginning.
Second thing, second thing, the John that I know is a very good, fun loving and dedicated priest, and I think that you want to pray for him, and think of him in those terms, during this very difficult time.
Third thing, people will say why now, why not wait, you know in our society there are policies, and in our society if an accusation come against a policeman, a coach, a teacher, anybody, they are immediately placed on administrative leave, we have to follow the policies of our society. If we don’t we will pay for it, we will pay in the court of public opinion, you know that the victims have lawyers and you know they are watching us. You watch television; you see the kinds of things they say about the church on the courthouse steps. You don’t want that kind of antic to take place against you, we don’t want that.
And so right now we’ll just have to delay Fathers retirement, we’ll just put it on hold, until we can get through this very difficult investigation process. Bishop Hying spoke to John on Thursday, Father John wanted me to say to the congregation, please tell them I am cooperating with the investigation. Depending on the cooperation of all parties involved maybe this will take a month, we don’t know , we never know how people are or aren’t going to cooperate, and so we’ll see how long it takes. You need to hang together, you need to support one another, you need to pray for yourselves, for Father John, but you also need to pray for victims, if you look at statistics, it’s shocking how many adults will say in the United States of America that they were abused as a child. I have no doubt that there’s any number of adults here who keep it secret to themselves but who were abused by some teacher, a coach, whomever, when they were a child, and those folks deserve our support. They deserve that we follow policies and procedures no matter how tough it is for us , no matter how difficult, as I said I’m a pastor , I’m going through the retirement process right now, I can’t imagine the horror that this is for Father John and for the congregation so please give him , fellow parishioners and victims in your prayers.