An Open Letter to Survivors

A Message for All Who Have Experienced Abuse in the Catholic Church, from Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Other Supporters

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are writing as members of the Catholic Church, to offer you an apology. We are deeply sorry for the abuse you experienced in our Church and for the lifelong aftermath of that abuse.

The abuse you endured was horrific and inexcusable. The Church should have been a sanctuary for you; we are so sorry that it was a place of trauma instead. What you suffered wasn’t your fault, and we want to apologize for every time you were blamed for someone else’s sins. We are sorry for any time someone suggested that sharing your story would bring shame or scandal to the Church. We are sorry for the many ways your abuse was ignored, minimized, and covered up by church leaders who should have protected you. 

We recognize that many of you have been speaking out for decades, and we apologize for all the times that we in the Church didn’t listen, doubted you, or lacked the courage to act. We trusted the wrong people, and we didn’t trust you. We rarely gave you the support you needed and deserved as you sought justice and healing. We offer no justifications or excuses, only our sincere regret for the ways that our actions may have separated you from your spiritual home and deepened your pain.

We know that we can’t take away the past, but from this moment forward, we pledge to welcome you, listen to you, pray with you, and work together to create a community that makes space for everyone, especially survivors of abuse. We want to be your partners and fellow advocates in working for justice and healing.

We, the undersigned, are profoundly sorry that we have failed you. We commit to standing with you now.

Sincerely,

Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Other Supporters

Signed by:

Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Bob Agnew – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Elizabeth Allbright – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Brenda Andrews – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Barbara Angermeier – St. Patrick, Elkhorn
Hans Angermeier – Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee
Jeanette Angermeier – Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee
Ann Archibald – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Michael Archibald – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Deacon James Banach – St. Gregory the Great, Milwaukee
Jennifer Bartowitz – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Fr. John Baumgardner – Eastside Family of Four Parishes, Milwaukee
Kimberley Bayer – Sacred Heart Croatian, Milwaukee
Fr. Kent Beausoleil, SJ – Midwest Jesuits
Anne Bender – Old St. Mary, Milwaukee
Ajoy Bose – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Terry Brecklin – St. James, Menomonee Falls
Elizabeth Brick – Church of the Gesu, Milwaukee
John Brick – Church of the Gesu, Milwaukee
Jessica Brundage – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Sylvia Llanas Buckman – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Ellen Brostrom – Our Lady of Divine Providence, Milwaukee
Deacon Dan Burmeister – Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Kenosha
Paul Burgoyne – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Carol Caffrey – St. Benedict the Moore, Milwaukee
Stephen Calme – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Mary Jo Canar – Our Lady of Lourdes, Milwaukee
Lindsay Caruso – Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee
Jim Cauley – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Eileen Cauley – St. Mary’s Visitation, Elm Grove
Lynn Charnitz – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Deacon Michael Chmielewski – Holy Apostles, New Berlin
Sophie Collins – St. Robert, Shorewood
Patrick Conlin – Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee
Fr. Jim Connell – Senior Priest, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Deacon Jeff Copson – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, New Berlin
Lisa Corona – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Mary Crane – Our Lady of Lourdes, Milwaukee
Katherine Delemont – St. Martin of Tours, Franklin
Holly Delgado – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Marianne Dropp – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Fr. Thomas DeVries – Senior Priest, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Pam Dowling – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Samantha El-Azem – Christ King, Wauwatosa
John Fox – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Mary Beth Gahn – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Shannon Garcia Martinez – Old St. Mary, Milwaukee
John Gentile – St. Gregory the Great, Milwaukee
Mary Gentile – St. Gregory the Great, Milwaukee
Justice Janine Geske – Church of the Gesu, Milwaukee
Deacon Bill Goulding – St. Mary, Hales Corners
Fr. Gregory Greiten – St. Bernadette, Milwaukee
Chad Griesel – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Fr. Howard Haase – Holy Angels, West Bend
Barbara Haase – St. Katharine Drexel, Beaver Dam
Mary Karen Halmstad – St Dominic, Brookfield
Sarah Hambrook – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Laura Hancock – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Elizabeth Handle – St. Joseph, Grafton
Deacon Keith Hansen – St. Paul the Apostle, Racine
Michelle Hansen – St. Sebastian, Milwaukee
Sylvia Hecht – Milwaukee
Megan Heeder – Milwaukee
Ellen Heitman – St. Joan of Arc, Nashotah
Jess Herrick – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Cathy Hoelter – St. Robert, Shorewood
Janel Holmes – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Maggie Hucko – Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Leslie Hultgren – St. Francis Borgia, Cedarburg
Deacon Tom Hunt – Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee
Alice Iaquinta – Mary of Magdala, Milwaukee
Patricia Ingrilli – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Sheila Jacque – St. Eugene, Fox Point
Sooz Elizabeth Jesen – Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee
Shanedra Johnson – Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee
Fr. Joe Juknialis – Senior Priest, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Jim Karolewicz – Lumen Christi, Mequon
Anna Kinskey – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani – St. Sebastian and St. Catherine, Milwaukee
Fr. Tim Kitzke – Eastside Family of Four Parishes, Milwaukee
Griffin Knipp – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Jerry Knipple – Our Lady of Lourdes, Milwaukee
Sara Knutson – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Tom Koester – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Bill Kolanko – Holy Family, Whitefish Bay
Chris Kolanko – Holy Family, Whitefish Bay
Joan Kress – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Liz Kuhn – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Andrew Kuzma – St. Casimir, Milwaukee
Ellen Lang Roder – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Sara Larson – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Michael Larson – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Laura Lemna – Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Erynn Lewis – Blessed Sacrament, Milwaukee
Wendy Liedtke – Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Sr. Barbara Linke, SSND – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
James Linn – St. Robert, Shorewood
Ty Linn – St. Robert, Shorewood
Sheila Long – Holy Family, Whitefish Bay
Jennifer Mackinnon – Lumen Christi, Mequon
Rachel McGrew – Our Lady of Divine Providence, Milwaukee
Jon Metz – St. Sebastian, Milwaukee
Lisa Metz – St. Sebastian, Milwaukee
Fr. Michael F. Michalski – Senior Priest, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Julee Mitchell – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Claudia Morris – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Katherine Murray – St. Robert, Shorewood
Dennis Neuenfeldt – St. Benedict the Moor, Milwaukee
Pat Neuenfeldt – St. Benedict the Moor, Milwaukee
Bruce Nogalski – Queen of Apostles, Pewaukee
Deacon Larry Normann – St. Joan of Arc, Nashotah
Erin O’Donnell – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Anne O’Meara-Stillwell – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Jane Ore – St. Mary’s Visitation, Elm Grove
Catherine Orr – Lumen Christi, Mequon
Margaret Payant – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Gina Peterson – St. Matthew, Oak Creek
Deacon Greg Petro – St. Rita, Racine
Tom Pipines – Queen of Apostles, Pewaukee
Joan Plumley – Good Shepherd, Menomonee Falls
David Poniewaz – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Patty Porter – St. Joan of Arc, Nashotah
Carol Poth – St. Catherine, Milwaukee
Deacon Steve Przedpelski – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Kerry Quimi – Lumen Christi, Mequon
Caitlin Raether – St. Robert, Shorewood
Mairead Rauch – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Sharon Richardson – Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee
Mamie Riyeff – Three Holy Women, Milwaukee
Dean Roder – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Shelly Roder – St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee
Jan Ruidl – Sacred Heart, Racine
Susan Sajdak – Our Lady of Lourdes, Milwaukee
Paul Salsini – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Allen Samson – Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee
Fr. Daniel Sanders – Lumen Christi, Mequon
Don Sass – St. Benedict the Moor, Milwaukee
Kelly Savasta – Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Joanne Schoenke – Holy Apostles, New Berlin
Jackie Schwabe – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Sr. Debra Sciano, SSND – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Leah Sealey – St. Sebastian, Milwaukee
Mary Jo Sebern – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Deacon Sandy Sites – Good Shepherd and St. James, Menomonee Falls
Elizabeth Sigmund – St. Jerome, Oconomowoc
Barbara Spalda – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Joan Squire – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Elaine Steele – Holy Family, Whitefish Bay
Lizzy Stempien – St. Dominic, Brookfield
Fr. Bob Stiefvater – Senior Priest, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Sara Stone – St. Matthias, Milwaukee
Oliver Sweet – Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee
Catherine Treutelaar – St. James, Mukwonago
Kathleen Utschig – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Mary Kate Uy – Saints Peter and Paul, Milwaukee
Jerri von den Bosch – Church of the Gesu, Milwaukee
Steph Weiler – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
June Wessa – St. Catherine, Milwaukee
Fr. Dennis Wieland – St. Joseph, Wauwatosa
Gerry Wolf – St. Agnes, Butler
Jane Zeman – St. Agnes, Butler
Theodore Zimmer – All Saints, Milwaukee
Jolie Zimmer – All Saints, Milwaukee
Elizabeth Zimmer – St. Robert, Shorewood
Eric Zimmer – St. Robert, Shorewood
Claire Ziolkowski – Old St. Mary, Milwaukee

Other Supporters

Beth Ann Andrews – The Woodlands, TX
Alexander Arguelles – West Chester, PA
Linda Atwood – Minneapolis, MN
Charlene Bader – Conroe, TX
Kevin Bae – Vienna, VA
Claude Bilodeau – Sudbury
Angie Boggs – Reston, VA
Barbara Bollinger – Albany, NY
Katie Burke – Cypress, TX
Larry Case – Fridley, MN
Bill Casey – Arlington, VA
Patrick Cauley – Lewisville, TX
Mary Charnitz – Madison, WI
Nathan Conroy – Albany, OR
Theresa Conroy – Albany, OR
Rebekah Colson – Bridgeville, PA
John Costantino – Pittsburgh, PA
Mary Ann Crowder – Morgantown, WV
Jenni Dellaert – IA
Phil DeLong – Land O’Lakes, WI
Kathleen Deuel – Buffalo, NY
Michelle Dawson – Kansas City, MO
Cathy Drake – Roselle Park, NJ
Maralyn Dubik – Buffalo, NY
Barb DuBois – St. Charles, MO
Emily DuBois – St. Louis, MO
Bill Durako – Rockford, IL
Cathy Durako – Rockford, IL
Jean Eakins – Seattle, WA
Candace Edwards – Papillion, NE
Linda Esparza – Newbury Park, CA
Amanda Ethier – IL
Patti Farry – Dunmore, PA
Katherine FitzGerald – Watertown, NY
Kathryn Foegen – Buffalo, NY
Ann Fox – Colwich, KS
Mary Fox – Aurora, WI
Krysten Fulcher – North Saint Paul, MN
Crystal Gallentine – Clarksville, TN
Mary Frances Gerber – Independence, MO
Steven Gimmarro – Blue Springs, MO
Emily Goehner – Norwich, NY
Jan Greenleaf – Peoria, IL
Hannah Grubbs – South Bend, IN
Kirsten Guidero – Marion, IN
Ed Gunn – Mt. Carmel, PA
Faith Hakesley – Boston, MA
Rachel Haskin – Lake Odessa, MI
Kevin Hayes – Pittsburgh, PA
Mike Hoffman – Chicago, IL
Anne Haddad – Baltimore, MD
Kathleen Howland – Minneapolis, MN
Christine Hyland – Oakton, VA
Jim Janco – Deptford, NJ
Joseph Jeson – Milwaukee, WI
Paula Kaempffer – Ramsey, MN
Kathleen Keane – White Bear Lake, MN
Carol Knoeber – Wylie, TX
Michael Krueger – Madison, WI
Ronald Lemmert – Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Tammy Lewis – Rockford, IL
Kyle Lloyd – Wahiawa, HI
Mary Lujan – Spring, TX
Eileen Mathy – Champaign, IL
Liz McCloskey – Washington, DC
Kirsten Metz – St. Louis, MO
Mary Jo Meyer – Kiel, WI
Joan Moulder – Pine Hill, NJ
Larry Mulligan – Grand Rapids, MI
Andrew Musgrave – Cincinnati, OH
Siobhan O’Connor – Buffalo, NY
Deacon Joe Pasquella – Wellsville, NY
Janet Patterson – Wolcottville, IN
Valerie Pierce – Gwinn, MI
Miguel Prats – Katy, TX
Cindy Puskar – Dayton, OH
Fr. Jim Radde, SJ – St. Paul, MN
Hery Narindra Jeannot Rakotoarimanana – Antananarivo, Madagascar
Marcia Reardon – Minneapolis, MN
Albert Reichelt – Baltimore, MD
Jen Renquin – Green Bay, WI
Kiera Reynolds – Saint Cloud, MN
Jim Richter – Minneapolis, MN
Bradley Roder – Lenexa, KS
Chris Scanlan – Minneapolis, MN
Mary Schaefer – Vienna, VA
Heather Schieder – Buffalo, NY
Deborah Schiessl – Brooklyn Park, MN
Molly Sheahan – Sacramento, CA
Beverly Sherman – Fairfax, VA
Kathleen Shriner – Delphi, IN
Robert Sledz – Belvidere, IL
Joseph Stanek – Scranton, PA
Lucy Strausbaugh – Baltimore, MD
Birgitta Sujdak Mackiewicz – Peoria, IL
Kiah Tessman – Kalamazoo, MI
Michael Thelen – Edgewood, KY
Gerald Vigna – Camden, NJ
Louis vondenBosch – Reading, PA
Maria Wood – Bear Creek, WI
Laurie Wright Garry – Newbury Park, CA
Christa Wynk – Brownsburg, IN
Barbara Yanchek – Jermyn, PA
Jasmine Young – Phoenix, AZ
Diane Zindell – Jermyn, PA