MILWAUKEE (ChurchMilitant.com) - An archbishop emeritus embroiled in scandal has died.
Archbishop Rembert Weakland passed away on Monday at the age of 95. Weakland was ordained a priest in 1951 with the Order of St. Benedict. "Rembert" was the religious name he took as a Benedictine. He became a Benedictine abbot in 1967 and went on to become archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to his retirement in 2002.
In 1998, the Milwaukee archdiocese doled out $450,000 to a man named Paul Marcoux, who claimed Weakland had sexually assaulted him 18 years prior. It came to light that the two were in a homosexual relationship when Marcoux claims the assault occurred.
In 2002, as the scandal came to light, it was reported that Abp. Weakland had long been a "leading liberal Catholic voice." This sentiment was echoed in the 2006 book Rite of Sodomy, which called the prelate "one of the darlings of the liberal hierarchy of the United States."
Amid the media firestorm in 2002, Abp. Weakland asked the Vatican to fast-track his retirement.
In May 2002, Weakland claimed he paid back the archdiocese out of his own pocket, saying, "I have handed over to the archdiocese money obtained by my lectures and writings together with other honoraria." But the amount the prelate paid to the archdiocese actually totaled less than $200,000 — meaning over half of the hush money given to Marcoux came from the Church's coffers and was not paid back by Weakland.
Archbishop Weakland reportedly shredded documents related to sexual abuse by clerics when he was head of the Milwaukee archdiocese.
Years after he retired in disgrace, Weakland included discussion of his homosexual proclivities in a 2009 autobiographical book titled A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop. Some described this as his act of "coming out of the closet," while others noted he had already admitted years prior to engaging in homosexual conduct.
Weakland planned to move to New Jersey around the time of the book's publication, but rescinded those plans amid backlash to the book and outrage over his record with homosexuality and sexual abuse.
In 2019, the Milwaukee archdiocese removed Abp. Weakland's name from the archdiocesan headquarters and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.