ALLOUEZ — Former Green Bay Bishop Aloysius Wycislo’s name will be removed from the Cathedral Center, which is located adjacent to St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. The removal was announced in a letter from Bishop David Ricken to Cathedral parishioners on Feb. 23.
The 11,000 square-foot addition to St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, which includes the Diocesan Museum on the lower level, was dedicated by former Green Bay Bishop David Zubik on June 24, 2004.
In his Feb. 23 letter, Bishop Ricken said the removal of Bishop Wycislo’s name from the Cathedral Center is part of the diocese’s response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
“As you have no doubt heard, the church is grappling again with the pain of past clergy abuse,” Bishop Ricken said, adding that he continues to implement his seven steps to accountability, which he proposed last fall.
“… as we consider what more we can do to bring about healing, I have come to a decision regarding Bishop Aloysius Wycislo and the Cathedral Center that bears his name,” he wrote. “With the release of the disclosure list it is clear that a majority of the problems and challenges in the Diocese of Green Bay occurred during the 1960s and ’70s.
“In reviewing publicly available records and articles regarding allegations against priests during Bishop Wycislo’s tenure, I have come to the conclusion that it does not serve the interests of the diocese or the Cathedral for Bishop Wycislo’s name to remain connected with the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Center,” added Bishop Ricken.
“Let me make it very clear that Bishop Wycislo was never accused of any kind of sexual misconduct,” added Bishop Ricken. “While Bishop Wycislo’s many contributions to the diocese, particularly in implementing the reforms of Vatican II, are laudable, this decision allows those members of our community who may have concerns surrounding Bishop Wycislo’s reported handling of clergy complaints to move forward on a path to healing.”
Bishop Ricken said that the facility, which sits north of the Cathedral, should now be called the Cathedral Center.
“I hope this action will continue the healing process for those who have been hurt,” he said.
In preparing for the announcement, Bishop Ricken said he notified Cathedral leadership, as well as the major donors who supported the construction of the center. “In the coming days, you will see signage removed from the exterior and interior of the building and the new name begin to be used,” he said.
“I know this may come as a shock, and for that I apologize. Removal of Bishop Wycislo’s name from the center will help the healing process begin for so many who have suffered for so long,” said Bishop Ricken. “I ask for your support and your prayers as the parish community of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral turns another page in its long history in the Diocese of Green Bay. I know that together, and with God, we will move forward in positive ways.”
On Jan. 17, the Diocese of Green Bay released the names of 47 diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor since 1906. Of the 47 priests, 23 were found to have had substantiated allegations sometime between 1968 and 1983, the years Bishop Wycislo served as bishop. He died on Oct. 11, 2005, at age 97.
The removal of Bishop Wycislo’s name from the Cathedral Center follows similar actions in other dioceses.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., removed the name of former Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield from the gymnasium at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling in February.
In August 2018, the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., removed the names of every bishop since 1947 from every building and room in the diocese named in their honor. Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer said the action was taken because his predecessors failed to protect children from sexual abuse by priests.