Marquette University removes its past president’s name from building

WASHINGTON — Jesuit-run Marquette University in Milwaukee has removed the name of a past university president from one of its buildings following a letter from the priest asking that it be removed as part of “fasting” after reflecting on his role in handling past sex abuse claims under his purview.

The dorm formerly named “Wild Commons,” after Jesuit Father Robert A. Wild, was renamed simply to “The Commons” Sept. 4 just weeks after opening in August bearing the name of Marquette’s president from 1996-2011 and 2013-2014.

Father Wild said in the letter published by Marquette in early September that he was “filled with sorrow and abhorrence at any incident of abuse committed by a religious leader” but when he was Jesuit provincial for the order’s Chicago province from 1985 to 1991, he handled sex abuse allegations against three of its members.

“Looking back, I would have handled certain aspects of those cases rather differently than I did then,” Father Wild said in the letter addressed to Marquette’s Board of Trustees and to current university president Michael Lovell.

Though he doesn’t name any of the cases, he said in the letter that “restrictive measures” imposed on one of the priests “proved in practice to be to be insufficient to restrain the behavior of one of those priests.”

“I very much regret that,” he wrote, “and apologize especially to those victimized for my mistakes in that regard.”

Father Wild refers in the letter to a letter from Pope Francis that says sex abuse of minors “and other vulnerable people” is “demonic” and “can only be expelled by prayer and fasting.”

“I have decided that one aspect of ‘fasting’ I should undertake is to formally request that Marquette University remove my name from our new residence hall complex,” Father Wild wrote.