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Back in the Limelight

He couldn’t bear being out of the limelight for these seven years. That’s right, Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland has thrust himself back into the public eye, seven years after being disgraced by a two-fold scandal involving “hush money” and alleged homosexual date rape. The former leader of the Milwaukee archdiocese has decided he wants the last word: “I refused to let myself become a victim and refused to let myself become angry,” he told the Associated Press (May 11) in regard to his disgraceful exit in 2002. Even before the June release of his memoir, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop (Eerdmans), Weakland was busy working his PR machine, announcing through The New York Times and the Associated Press that he’s a bona fide homosexual.

That won’t come as a big surprise to most NOR readers, or to anyone else who might remember that Weakland stepped down as Archbishop of Milwaukee soon after Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette University theology student, revealed in May 2002 that he was paid $450,000 to settle a sexual-assault claim he made against the Archbishop more than two decades earlier. The money, incidentally, came from archdiocesan funds. Marcoux went public at the height of anger over the clergy sex-abuse crisis, when Catholics and others were demanding that dioceses reveal the extent of clerical predations, and how much had been confidentially spent to settle claims. Further, in an August 1980 letter to Marcoux that was obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Weakland said he was in emotional turmoil and signed the letter, “I love you.” So, a homosexual? Thanks, Rembert, we weren’t sure we could figure that one out on our own. In his memoir, however, he does admit to sexual relationships with several other men during his tenure as Archbishop because of “loneliness that became very strong.”

Weakland, however, isn’t content to dwell on the mundane details of his homosexual exploits. He pushes on further, detailing his “struggles with being gay,” and explaining why the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is just plain wrong. In fact, Weakland’s “coming out” party serves a specific purpose for his cause: He says he wants to raise questions about the Church’s teaching that homosexuality is “objectively disordered.” In an interview with The New York Times (May 15), you can almost hear the boyish whine in his voice when he complains, “Those are bad words because they are pejorative.” Yes, Weakland is a man on a mission — still. “If we say our God is an all-loving god, how do you explain that at any given time probably 400 million living on the planet at one time would be gay? Are the religions of the world, as does Catholicism, saying to those hundreds of millions of people, you have to pass your whole life without any physical, genital expression of that love?” Of course, he means the question to be rhetorical, but the answer is clearly yes. The Church calls it chastity, and it applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News hits the nail on the head when he asks the obvious question: “How is it that a gay archbishop who by his own confession had multiple homosexual affairs, and in one of them paid his lover nearly half a million dollars — money that he stole from the Church, mind you — now suddenly becomes an authority on what Catholic teaching should be, or a moral authority on anything?” It’s pretty obvious that Rembert G. Weakland wants to change Church teaching in order that he may justify his own sins.

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