Former Milwaukee Archbishop seeks Forgiveness for "inappropriate relationship"
After acknowledging an "inappropriate relationship" with a 30-year-old theology student and begging for forgiveness, former Archbishop Rembert Weakland turned his back on congregants at a prayer service and knelt before the altar to pray.
The congregation rose and applauded for nearly two minutes for the cleric, who has said he agreed to a secret settlement four years ago with a man who accused Weakland of sexually assaulting him decades ago.
"I think he's a good man," said Mary Ann Herzog, 39, who attended the service Friday night. "I feel for him."
Weakland apologised at the service, held a week after his 25-year tenure ended.
"I apologise to all the faithful of the archdiocese which I love so much, to all its people and clergy for the scandal that has occurred because of my sinfulness," Weakland said during the 20-minute public service at the Mater Christi Chapel in suburban Milwaukee.
Weakland is the highest-ranking American cleric to acknowledge settling a sexual assault allegation against him.
"It took guts," the Fr Michael Fahey, a Marquette University theology professor, said after the service.
The archdiocese reached the $A792,952 settlement in 1998 with Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette student who said Weakland sexually assaulted him in 1979.
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
3 Jun 2002