(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s Catholic churches have some unanswered questions about the state’s new investigation into old sexual abuse claims.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced the investigation Tuesday.
“The people of Wisconsin, and especially victims, deserve an independent review of clergy and faith leader abuse,” Kaul said in a statement.
Kaul made it clear he is looking to investigate any and all claims, no matter when they occurred.
Church leaders across the state say they have concerns.
“The Church takes the issue of sexual abuse of minors seriously and has put in place many prevention, education and accountability correctives during the past 20 years,” Jerry Topczewski, Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Milwaukee said in a statement. “There is no evidence that the Church as a whole and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee hasn’t already taken all possible steps in addressing issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse. We also do not understand the legal basis for the inquiry.”
The Archdiocese in Milwaukee is not the only diocese with questions.
Church leaders in Green Bay said they have not received any information about new sex abuse claims, or any information at all about Kaul’s investigation.
“We understand that this is a review of past cases and does not imply that there are any new allegations against active priests or deacons in the Green Bay Diocese. At this point, we have not received any formal written request from the AG’s office. Once we receive such a request, the diocese will review and respond appropriately at that time,” the Green Bay Diocese said in its statement.
Kaul is inviting sex abuse survivors, witnesses, and even church officials to report claims to a special hotline. He said investigators will then interview anyone involved, and report back.
Milwaukee’s church says while Kaul is inviting any and all abuse claims from any diocese in Wisconsin, the church notes that Kaul is only focusing on claims of Catholic abuse.
“We also question why only the Catholic Church is being singled out for this type of review when sexual abuse is a societal issue,” the Archdiocese said in its statement.