MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Archdiocese’s “Mass of Atonement” has become an annual event during which the church seeks forgiveness for clergy who have sexually abused children.
This year’s Mass, held on Monday, April 22nd, came on the heels of the most recent scandal involving a Wauwatosa priest allegedly touching children.
Earlier this month, Father Robert Marsicek was removed from his post at St. Pius X and the Wauwatosa Catholic School inside. He had been accused of inappropriately touching a young girl. However, this is not the first time such allegations against the man have arisen.
“We are imperfect human beings,” Archbishop Jerome Listecki said.
Listecki led Monday’s service and has made the Mass of Atonement an annual event. He says the church recognizes the widespread pain left behind by clergy who have sexually abused children and those who did nothing about it.
“Even though many in our community never shared in the sins or crimes committed, we still experience the effects of these acts in our neglect, our silence, our ignorance or our indifference,” Listecki said.
“We want to know who’s responsible for this priest and other priests that are being left in ministry. This has always been our concern,” Peter Isley with SNAP said.
SNAP is the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. While Isley says acknowledging the crimes committed within the church is a good first step, it is simply not enough — pointing to the Marsicek case.
A police report shows a teacher came forward after seeing Father Marsicek touch a young girl in what the teacher considered an inappropriate way. As the investigation continued, the report details other similar complaints that were never investigated by police.
“Bottom line is how many clergy have reports like this in the Archdiocese that have not been properly investigated?” Isley said.
“There’s no cover up, no intention, nothing even remotely resembling this,” Listecki said.
Listecki argues there have been major reforms within the church in just the last few years. He says the teacher coming forward the most recent time proves that those changes are starting to show results.
“We work very hard to raise the consciousness of all our people to make sure that everyone who’s involved with children understands their responsibility and knows those watchful and telltale signs,” Listecki said.
The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office has decided not to charge Father Marsicek — saying it would be difficult to prove any criminal behavior. However, the accusations from his time in California are still being investigated. The Salvatorian order to which Marsicek belongs had previously told FOX6 News they were conducting their own investigation, but a call for an update on those proceedings was not returned.