Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Northwoods Catholic priests address sexual abuse, Church cover-ups with parishes Submitted: 09/13/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Northwoods Catholic priests address sexual abuse, Church cover-ups with parishes
WOODRUFF, EAGLE RIVER - The leader of the American Catholic Church admits sex abuse scandals have "lacerated" the church in the United States.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo made the comment after he and other American bishops met with Pope Francis on Tuesday at the Vatican.

We've heard story after story about abuse by Catholic priests this summer. That's left Northwoods priests and parishioners with a challenge. How to talk, think, and pray about the scandals?

"It just feels like a plague in the church," said Fr. Aaron Devett, the priest at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff.


Devett has been following the stories closely. He's originally from Pennsylvania, and last month, a grand jury report found more than 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children over a 70-year span in that state. The church worked to cover it up.

That report came after Archbishop Theodore McCarrick resigned, accused of molesting teenagers and seminarians.

"The more I read, it came as a sick feeling in my stomach," Devett said. "I absolutely knew I would have to talk about it. But, also, I have talked about it."

He also talked to his parish about sexual abuse in 2016, after a different grand jury report found widespread sexual abuse and a cover-up in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese of Pennsylvania.

That's the diocese in which Devett grew up.

"I read that report, knowing names, and knowing that there would have been victims I knew whose names were not there," he said.

This time, Devett preached a message of deepening faith in Jesus, even when parts of the Catholic institution fail.

He's shared the letters of the Most Reverend James Powers, the Bishop of Superior, the diocese covering the Northwoods.

In an August 31 letter, Powers offered prayers, support, and apologies to victims. He also wrote he's not aware of any currently-serving priests or parish staff in the Diocese known or rumored to be abusers.

"I want to ensure that our Church protects not only our children, but everyone from abuse," Powers wrote. "As your Bishop, I promise, there will be no cover-ups in our Diocese."

In a different part of the Northwoods, Fr. Patrick McConnell is also addressing the issue head-on.

"I think people are feeling despair and fear and even kind of a spirit of betrayal," McConnell said. "I think the people really want us to be able to say, 'Hey, this is part of our reality, but it's not all of it.'"

McConnell leads parishes in Eagle River, Phelps, Land O'Lakes, Sugar Camp and Three Lakes. He's seen people turn to the Church even more.

McConnell tells them of an idea by Saint John Bosco, who saw the Church as a boat.

"The boat will sometimes take the wrong direction, sometimes make some errors in where it's going, but it's always drawing towards this destination," McConnell said.

At Holy Family, Devett hopes the Church corrects more than just its issues with sexual abuse.

He hopes it corrects something he sees as even broader, the abuse of conscience.

"If we just think this problem is about sexual abuse…we're missing a huge part of the problem because it was the rest of the problem that allowed that to happen," Devett said. "They're playing with and manipulating and abusing an individual's sense of right at wrong."

Devett's message to Catholics is even as the Church struggles with institutional challenges, faith marches on.

"I'm not walking away," he said. "Please don't walk out. Walk on with me."

The Diocese of Superior requires adults in its parishes to take safe environment training before working with children. It also encourages children to take their own version of the training.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

MADISON, WIS. (AP) - Madison officials say Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents violated city policy by detaining at least six immigrants without letting police know ahead of time.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says the department has a working relationship with ICE, but the federal agency did not follow protocol. Koval says ICE has agreed to call the assistant police chief before making arrests in Madison. This time the agency called the Dane County Communications Center.

Koval says the arrests were made at separate workplaces and are not considered to be part of a raid. He says the community is in "hyper-warp distress mode."

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says ICE told city officials the people arrested are believed to have committed serious crimes, but he does not know the specifics of the investigation.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN DELLS, WIS. (AP) - Three Illinois men are dead after their sport utility vehicle collided with a pickup near Wisconsin Dells.

Columbia County sheriff's authorities say the men were in a Toyota 4Runner that collided with a Chevrolet Silverado at an intersection on State Highway 127 on Saturday.

Authorities say the Toyota SUV apparently failed to yield the right of way at a stop sign. The three men died at the scene. Authorities say they apparently were not wearing seat belts.

The 33-year-old woman who was driving the pickup was flown to UW Hospital. Her passenger, a 33-year-old man, was taken to another hospital.

Names and hometowns of the victims were not released.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - A man died after a house fire in Rhinelander on Friday night.

According to a press release from the Rhinelander Police Department, Rhinelander police and firefighters responded to the fire at 320 Rose Street near Hodag Park around 7:30 p.m.  

Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found an unresponsive man on the floor.  Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

+ Read More

HAYWARD -
16-year-old Angel Marie Simonson was found safe in Marshfield according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. 

+ Read More

ROME -

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Kids ran throughout the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander on Saturday for the third annual Harvest Hoedown.

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - After 30 years, Dr. George Karling decided it's time to retire as the Three Lakes District Administrator.

He plans to leave after the school year ends, but the school board is already preparing to find his replacement.

Early next month, the Three Lakes School District will host two input sessions for the public.

Three Lakes residents can go to give their opinions on what they want in a replacement. 

Karling's decision to retire comes about a month after he faced criticism for allowing the district to be featured in a campaign ad for Gov. Scott Walker. 

People who can't make it can still send their thoughts to the Three Lakes Board of Education. People can submit comments by writing to:

Board of Education, Three Lakes School District
6930 West School St. 
Three Lakes, WI 54562 

or email: tr@threelakessd.k12.us.



+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here