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Child sex abuse priests are listed

Details, however, withheld

The Diocese of La Crosse on Saturday released the names of 25 clergy alleged to have committed child sexual abuse, including many assigned to local parishes.

The list includes the clergy person’s date of ordination, his date of death and all the places the individual worked without specifying where any act of abuse may have occurred.

Priests who face “substantiated allegations” of child sex abuse and were employed by the diocese in central Wisconsin include:

_ Bruce Ball, ordained in 1978, who worked at three high schools and two churches, including St. Mary Help of Colby. He died in 2002.

_ Raymond Bornbach, ordained in 1941, who worked at eight churches, including St. John the Baptist, Marshfield, St. Paul, Mosinee, Holy Rosary, Owen, Sacred Heart, Withee and Holy Name, Wausau. He died in 2006.

_ Eugene Comiskey, ordained in 1945, who worked at one high school, Marshfield-Columbus, and eight churches, including St. Patrick, Halder, and Christ the King, Spencer. He died in 1982.

_ James Finucan, ordained in 1947, who worked at nine churches, including Holy Rosary, Owen, and St. Anne, Wausau. He died in 2009.

_ John Thomas Finucan, or- dained in 1955, who worked at six high schools or colleges and four churches, including St. Mary (Immaculate Conception), Wausau. He died in 2018.

_ Tom Garthwaite, ordained in 1955, who worked at two hospitals, a high school and nine churches, including Sacred Heart, Marshfield. He was removed from the ministry in 2004.

_ Richard Hermann, ordained in 1944, who worked at 14 churches, including Holy Family, Poniatowski, and St. Mary (Immaculate Conception), Wausau. He died in 2016.

_ Thomas Langer, ordained in 1956, who worked in 12 churches, including Holy Family, Poniatowski, one hospital, St. Joseph’s, Marshfield, and six high schools, including Marshfield-Columbus and Newman High School, Wausau. He died in 2004.

_ Garland Muller, ordained in 1938, who worked at eight churches, including Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marathon, and St. Mary (Immaculate Conception), Wausau.

_ James Stauber, ordained in 1959, who worked at two high schools, a junior high school and seven churches, including St. Mary Help, Colby, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marathon. He died in 2010.

_ Raymond Wagner, ordained in 1952, who worked at a hospital, and 12 churches, including Holy Family, Poniatowski, Holy Name, Wausau, and St. Mary (Immaculate Conception), Wausau. He died in 2009.

A non-diocesan priest who worked in the Diocese of La Crosse believed to have committed child sexual abuse includes:

_ Francis Zimmerer, who worked at St. John the Baptist, Edgar. He died in 1983.

The Most Rev. William Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse, offered a pastoral letter that explained reasons for publishing the list of priests believed to have committed sexual abuse.

“The disclosure of names is a necessary step,” he wrote. “Victims inform us that it assists in their healing process and it provides them with no small sense of justice. Victims and their loved ones must no longer suffer in silence and isolation. This is also a painful step. It’s painful to all victims, certainly, for their nightmare resurfaces yet again with this public release; and it is painful, too, for all good and faithful laity and clergy who continue to feel anger and humiliation for the abuse of both power and conscience committed by these men. Even with that, the disclosure of names is the right thing to do, for all of us.”

The bishop said the listing of names is part of the diocese’s Protect and Heal Initiative that is about “moving forward” from past scandal. In his letter, the bishop commits himself to transparency, assisting victims with a healing process and efforts to prevent future abuse.

Peter Isely, Milwaukee, spokesperson for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said Monday that listing of mostly dead clergy accused of abuse is a “good, minimum” step forward, but it does not inspire trust when it leaves out four Jesuits working at Campion High School, Prairie du Chien, already listed as abusers by other dioceses and fails, most importantly, to shed light on whether diocesesan leaders, including Cardinal Raymond Burke and Archbishop Jerome Listecki, did not remove priests known to have committed child sex crimes.

“It’s not just the crime, it’s the coverup,” he said.

Isely said dioceses around the United States have started publishing lists of priest abusers after survivor groups, such as SNAP, have for decades demanded transparency and accountability for child sex crimes.

It’s Isely’s belief that diocese are publishing the lists to convince attorney generals in the United States not to investigate, as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel did, how child sex abuse scandals have been handled by bishops and other high ranking clergy.

Isely said the Diocese of La Crosse cannot be trusted in reporting sexual crimes by its employees. He recalled that in 2003 and 2004 the diocese said that less than a dozen priests were implicated in child sex crimes. Now, said Isely, the diocese is confessing to double that number.

Isely said victims of child sexual abuse have “an absolute right” to know whether the diocese covered up for these unnamed priests over the years.

He said the La Crosse Diocesan listing fails to identify other employees, such as choir directors and youth ministers, who abused children.

The spokesman said it would be pointless to investigate the crimes of deceased clergy but, given that their victims mostly live, it is now necessary to investigate whether La Crosse officials, many who have been promoted to higher office within the Catholic Church, protected priests known to have abused children.

“That’s really basic,” he said.

Diocese of La Crosse media spokesperson Jack Felsheim said Bishop Callahan’s perspective on dealing with clergy sex crimes have been laid out in several pastoral letters over the past year.

He said the diocese continues to investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

“Moving forward, names will be added if and when future allegations are sufficiently confirmed,” Felsheim said. “We are encouraging all victims to come forward as we offer our willingness and ability to assist in the healing process.