MILWAUKEE -- Father Robert Wild, Marquette University's 22nd president and chancellor, has requested his name be removed from the school's newest residence hall.
Wild indicated in a letter to the university's Board of Trustees that he wants his name removed because he regrets not using his authority to do more to protect victims and prevent future clergy abuse. Here's a portion of that letter:
"As a Jesuit, Catholic priest, I am filled with sorrow and abhorrence at any incident of abuse committed by a religious leader. While those feelings cannot atone for what people endured who have been sexually abused, I still want to express my regret for their suffering and for the terrible wrongs done by their abusers.
"As Provincial Superior of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) from 1985 to 1991, I was invested with authority over all Jesuits belonging to that particular three-state region. During my six years in office, accusations of sexual abuse of minors were lodged against three of our members. Looking back, I would have handled certain aspects of those cases rather differently than I did then. The restrictive measures I thought quite sufficient to restrain the behavior of one of those priests, for example, proved in practice to be insufficient to do so. I very much regret that and apologize especially to those victimized for my mistakes in that regard.
"In a recent letter to the whole Church, Pope Francis describes the sexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable people as something demonic and cites in that connection Matthew 17:21, where Jesus explains to his disciples, “This class of demons can only be expelled by prayer and fasting.” After much thought and prayer, and careful consideration, I have decided that one aspect of the “fasting” I should undertake is to formally request that Marquette University remove my name from our new residence hall complex. Therefore, after careful discussion of the matter with Marquette University’s leadership, I formally request that the University remove my name from the building that was recently named for me."
Marquette University President Michael Lovell issued the following statement:
"I respect Father Wild’s decision as laid out in his letter, and the Board unanimously agreed to honor his request. We are in agreement with Father Wild that this is the right decision for both Marquette and survivors of clergy abuse. The residence hall, which includes Ray and Kay Eckstein Tower and Wells St. Hall, will be known as The Commons. We have tremendous respect for Father Wild and are grateful for his leadership as Marquette’s president from 1996 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2014. Anyone who knows Father Wild understands that he values the Gospel message of love and forgiveness and we move forward together as a Marquette community in that spirit. We offer our prayers for continued strength and healing for all survivors of clergy abuse."
Some of the amenities in the new residence hall include a large dining facility open 24 hours daily, a first-floor lounge and other community space throughout the building, a chapel and multi-faith worship space, smart classrooms and study lounges on each floor.