Archdiocese Needs to Immediately Ban Retreats at Kenosha Abbey

By Peter Isely
SNAP Wisconsin
May 7, 2013

Archdiocese needs to immediately ban retreats at Kenosha Abbey 

Benedictine officials violated court agreement to keep youngsters away from monk who attempted to abduct children

Archbishop Listecki again fails to enforce church authority to hold predators and church supervisors accountable 

It took less than one week in the second case of child sex abuse under investigation by police for church officials in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to demonstrate that their statements, promises and assurances mean nothing and why they are in Federal Bankruptcy Court as a result of a decades long pattern and practice of fraud by concealing and transferring known child molesters.

Last week a Kenosha County judge agreed with police and prosecutors that Saint Benedict Abbey in Benet Lake, a Catholic retreat facility in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, violated a court agreement to keep one of its monks, Thomas Chmura, away from children.

Chmura was arrested on April 25th in Antioch Illinois for attempting to abduct a child for purposes of sexual gratification. According to police, the monk not only admitted to the attempted abduction but said he had been unsuccessfully trying to abduct a child on at least ten occasions over the past several weeks.

That’s a lot of time away from his abbey in a car supplied for him by his superior, Fr. Donald Gibbs, prior and administrator of the facility.

The Benedictines posted bond for Chmura and promised court officials that he would be kept away from children. Gibbs then issued a statement that Chmura was assigned to the abbey’s mail room and that “Allegations of sexual abuse are thoroughly and rigorously investigated, even when they lead to painful information about a member of our community. We do not approve or sanction any misconduct.”

But last week court authorities, on a routine check of the abbey, found that Chmura was, in fact, around children at the abbey and that Gibbs and the Benedictines were in violation of the court agreement. Chmura was rearrested. He is now back in jail indefinitely until some housing can be found for him that is safe, in other words, not the abbey and the retreat facility and not under the watch of Gibbs. Needless to say, Gibbs is no longer issuing statements or talking to the media.

And it looks like he doesn’t have to explain himself to his Archbishop, Jerome Listecki, either, who has said nothing and done nothing about this case.

If the court and prosecutors think that Gibbs cannot guarantee the safety of children and families at Benet Lake why isn’t Archbishop Listecki imposing his authority under church law and halting retreats, warning Catholics, and disciplining Fr. Gibbs from the Archdiocese?


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