This issue of the Superior Catholic Herald marks the release of the Diocese of Superior’s list of clergy with substantiated claims of child sexual abuse against them.
Inside, you will find a letter from Bishop James P. Powers explaining the process of compiling the list; two articles from Kathy Drinkwine, the diocese’s coordinator of assistance and safe environment coordinator, discussing changes in the church since the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops launched the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People 20 years ago; “A Prayer for Our Church,” which diocesan committees involved in the process pray at every meeting; and contact information in English and Spanish for anyone wishing to report abuse.
Twenty-three men are on the list, nine of whom were not diocesan priests. Readers might recognize some names – Thomas Ericksen, for example, was removed from ministry in 1983 and sentenced in 2019 to 30 years in prison for his crimes – but most are probably not familiar. Many of the allegations are decades old, and the perpetrators are deceased.
In publishing this information, we grieve for the victims, for the loss of their innocence, their suffering and trauma. Time may not heal all wounds, but God can do anything. We pray he will move mountains within them, their families and loved ones.
We extend our gratitude to those who have dedicated countless hours to reading abuse reports and paging through old personnel files, attending meetings and seeking to correct past injustices. This responsibility has fallen heavily upon them, and we pray the burden was not too great.
These past two decades have been a season of painful but necessary purification in the church. In releasing a list of the names of abusive clergy, the diocese is proving its commitment to transparency. In committing to protecting children, it is preventing circumstances that could give abusers opportunity to act. In properly screening and forming men, the church is ensuring only those suited to the priesthood will receive Holy Orders. And in lifting up the church in prayer, we ask for God’s protection, that such evil will never again infiltrate the souls of those serving in our diocese.
During this season of Thanksgiving and preparation for the coming of Christ into the world, we can be grateful for the millions of men and women serving the church around the world – the consecrated, ordained and vowed as well as lay Catholics – who do God’s work willingly and joyfully. May he continue to bless them, and may this Advent fill our minds and hearts with peace.
Any inquiries regarding the list can be directed to Dan Blank, Director of Administrative Services, at 715-394-0211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.