Ex-Milwaukee archbishop told he can't spend final days at St. Vincent Archabbey
Retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who fell from grace in the Roman Catholic Church amid a sex and financial scandal, had hoped to return to St. Vincent Archabbey on Sept. 1 to live out his final days.
But the archabbey has withdrawn its invitation to the elderly cleric, he said.
Weakland, 87, said Archabbot Douglas Nowicki broke the news during a phone call last month, despite his ties to the Benedictine monastery for more than seven decades.
“He asked me to postpone indefinitely my coming,” Weakland told the Tribune-Review in a phone interview. “You don't want to interfere in the house, so I'm going to stay here. I did want to spend my final days there.”
Kim Metzgar, director of public relations at the archabbey in Westmoreland County, declined to comment.
Once a leading and influential voice in the Catholic Church on theological and social issues, Weakland was toppled in the church hierarchy in 2002 by a disclosure that he paid $450,000 in diocesan funds to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he was the archbishop's lover.
In his book, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop,” Weakland revealed he is gay.
Weakland said Nowicki told him it is best that he stay away because the monastery is still in turmoil from the removal of Mark Gruber, a Benedictine monk who taught anthropology at St. Vincent College. Last summer, the Vatican ordered Gruber to leave the monastery and spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance for making false sexual allegations against Nowicki.
“Nowicki talked a lot about a case they had been dealing with, and he said the community needs more healing,” Weakland said.
Under the Rule of St. Benedict, the order's founder, “all guests ... are to be welcomed as Christ.” Still, Weakland said he understands the archabbot's position.
“I'd say yes, I'm hurt, but I try to understand,” he said. “I went to St. Vincent in 1940 at the age of 13. I did my high school there. I did my college there. I did studies in Rome and New York, but I came back there in 1957 and taught there for six years and was elected abbot.”
Weakland, a native of Patton in Cambria County, said he studied for the priesthood and taught at St. Vincent, served as its archabbot for four years and spent a decade in Rome as the Abbot Primate of the Benedictines. He was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977 and served until 2002, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Weakland said he returned to St. Vincent for a time in 2003 after his retirement. He lives in an independent senior living building in Milwaukee. He still has relatives living in Pennsylvania, a 90-year-old sister in Altoona and another sister, 86, in Duncansville in Blair County.
“At 87, I'm in relatively good health, although I don't buy green bananas,” he joked.
Today, he plays no public role in the diocese he once oversaw.
After his resignation, a spate of lawsuits revealed that Weakland had transferred priests accused of sexual abuse of children from parish to parish without notifying parishioners and admitted shredding church files related to sex abuse involving diocesan priests. Shortly after his retirement, the Milwaukee archdiocese filed for bankruptcy.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Spirit Airlines puts Chicago on its flight path
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Hempfield man to plead guilty to posing as policeman
- Harsh February leaves Westmoreland communities short on road salt
- West Newton ponders adding to emergency call list
- Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum to kick off Speaker Series with stories of Jeannette
- Restitution payments top record in Westmoreland County
- Zoning update raises fears in Ligonier Township
- Event gets new formal name: Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, presented by Xcoal Energy & Resources in Latrobe