Two Priests Resign over Sex Abuse

Green Bay Press-Gazette
July 8, 2002

Both admitted to the incidents

Two priests who have combined to serve about 80 years in various roles for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay resigned from their positions following allegations of sexual abuse of minors, Bishop Robert Banks said in a press release issued Sunday night.

The Green Bay Diocese said the Rev. Daniel Gilsdorf, 68, pastor of St. Therese parish in Appleton, had admitted to an incident of sexual abuse of a minor that occurred almost 40 years ago.

The Rev. Philip Hoffmann, 64, admitted to an incident of sexual abuse of a minor that happened nearly 30 years ago, the diocese said. He served on the staff at the diocesan Marriage Tribunal and as the ecumenical officer and vicar for senior priests.

Banks accepted the resignations of the two men.

A temporary administrator is to be named for the St. Therese parish.

"These actions were based on the work of the Record Review Task Force," Banks said. "There were no further allegations by the victims in these incidents. I apologize and deeply regret the harm that was caused to those who were abused."

Banks, in accepting the resignations, informed the two that they will no longer be able to exercise any public priestly ministry. In other words, they may not wear clerical garb, celebrate Mass publicly or present themselves in public as priests.

Mike Blevins, president of the St. Therese parish council, said an announcement concerning the resignation was made at mass Sunday morning.

"Other than that I have nothing to say," Blevins said.

Terry Bergman, another member of the parish council, said Gilsdorf had been at the parish for 15 or 16 years.

"It's very difficult for me to believe," said Bergman. "I know Father Dan Gilsdorf to be a fine, upstanding priest."

Renae Wuerger, communications specialist for the Green Bay Diocese, said the incidents the priests admitted to were the only two allegations leveled against them.

According to the Diocese of Green Bay Web site, Hoffmann was responsible for representing the Catholic community to other churches of the diocese, serving as a liasion to other dioceses and commissions and making himself available to parish leaders on ecumenical affairs.

He has served in that role for about 10 years.

According to Press-Gazette archives, Gilsdorf celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest in June of 1985. At that time, he was at St. Joseph Parish in Sturgeon Bay where he had been since 1970.

Gilsdorf comes from a religious family. He is the brother of the Rev. Gordon Gilsdorf, nephew of Msgr. John Gehl and the cousin of the Rev. Richard Gilsdorf.

Hoffmann was ordained May 16, 1964. He was appointed assistant pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Oconto that year.

He was featured in a 1967 Press-Gazette article recognizing him as one of five outstanding young men of Wisconsin honored by the state Jaycees organization. He was later an assistant pastor at parishes in Navarino, Manawa, Clintonville and New Holstein.

Hoffmann was director of the Diocesan Housing Office from Nov. 18, 1969 to Sept. 24, 1976, during which time apartments for the elderly and homes for low-income families were built throughout the diocese.

Local church leaders have been considering how to implement a new national sexual abuse policy adopted by the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops in Dallas last month.

The policy, which calls for the permanent removal from public ministry of any priest who sexually abuses any child or youth, does not become mandatory unless the Vatican approves.

"Basically, the policy that came from Dallas is that we should remove from ministry any priest who has sexually abused a minor --- past, present and future," Banks told the Press-Gazette last month. "Dallas called for this, and it will be the policy here in the diocese of Green Bay."


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