FOX47 NEWS - Losing Faith In The Catholic Church

Jeff Angileri
Jan 2, 2008, 10:38 PM

When Cross Plains resident Tom O'Connell heard about the lawsuit filed in Appleton against the Green Bay catholic diocese, he wasn't suprised.

This is another example and there are examples all over the country of a church that is not being honest and a hierarchy not being transparent, O'Connell says.

The O'Connell family has lived through one of those examples.

Four years ago Tom's brother Dan was killed in Hudson - killed, many beleive, by priest Ryan Erickson.

Investigators looking for clues to the murder learned erickson had a dark history which included cases of molestation, and the church knew about it and kept it a secret.

We felt very betrayed and couldn't believe it, O'Connell says.

Before police could arrest him - Erickson committed suicide.

Since then, the O'Connell's have been pushing for change in the catholic church from the local level all the way to up to the Vatican.

Their most recent effort was a lawsuit filed last year in St. Criox County, demanding the church release the names of around 5-thousand priests identified as sexual offenders.

We're disappointed that it had to go this far.. that it had to go to another level, possibly and they just don't simply do the right thing, O'Connell says.

Last Friday the O'Connell family got word that their case was dismissed.

According to their attorney, the circuit judge believed it was the churches moral responsibility to give up the names, but couldn't force them to release the information because of the 1st ammendment.

We have to wonder-what part of society, what organization or way of affiliation can hide behind the first amendment when they're actually breaking the law, O'Connell says.

O'Connell says he is baffled that the church continues to hide people who have committed serious crimes.

Because they just recieved word of the dismissal of their case..the o'connell family says they haven't figured out what their next move is.

Still they say they have been talking to their attorney and have promised to continue fighting for major changes in the catholic church.

You can read some of them and more about the families mission by visiting their website www.crusadeagainstclergyabuse.com.

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