MILWAUKEE (AP) A Roman Catholic church has canceled plans for retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland to administer the sacrament of confirmation after parishioners objected and threatened to protest.
Parishioners remain upset over a $450,000 settlement the Milwaukee Archdiocese confidentially paid a man who claimed Weakland sexually assaulted him, said the Rev. Leonard Van Vlaenderen, an associate pastor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Brookfield.
Weakland asked the Vatican to speed up his retirement after the settlement became known in 2002. Weakland acknowledged an ''inappropriate'' relationship with the man, but said it was not abuse.
Church trustees notified Weakland about parishioners' opposition, and his ''immediate response was he did not want his presence to detract from the celebration of the sacrament. He therefore withdrew,'' Van Vlaenderen said.
The associate pastor sent a letter to parents of the 130 or so teenagers saying he was disappointed by their reaction.
''We received complaints, threats of protests, e-mails and one caller who was vile and rude with (parish staff),'' Van Vlaenderen wrote.
He said Weakland publicly confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness.
''There's no question that some church leadership has disappointed, but this time, it is some of God's people who have done so,'' wrote Van Vlaenderen, who also chose not to participate in the service.
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