Newly appointed bishop destroyed sex abuse records #stopabuse
The Green Bay-area priest tapped Tuesday by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Marquette, Mich., testified in a 2011 deposition that he destroyed documents relating to priests accused of sexual abuse.
Father John Doefler, 49, an Appleton native and vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay, will be installed as the bishop of Marquette early next year. In announcing his appointment Tuesday, Green Bay Bishop David Ricken said, "I could not be more delighted." Ricken said Doerfler "has excelled in his service to this dioceses...and has been a trusted adviser on moral and canonical issues."
But the advocacy group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, blasted Doerfler's selection, saying he destroyed what may have been criminal evidence, including psychological reports of priests accused of sexually assaulting minors.
"We find this decision really perplexing," said SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely of Milwaukee. "Doerfler destroyed virtually all of the abuse records in Green Bay."
Doerfler, who is a part-time lecturer in moral theology at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Franklin, testified in a lawsuit involving convicted pedophile John Patrick Feeney that he destroyed the records as part of a record retention policy put in place by then-Bishop David Zubik. He said psychological reports, except those involving current claims, were destroyed to comply with federal privacy laws.
It was not clear Tuesday whether Pope Francis, who has created a new commission to address the sex abuse crisis, was aware of Doerfler's role in the destruction of the records. Effort to reach the Vatican and Green Bay diocese late Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Doerfler was ordained in Green Bay in 1991. He studied at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.; Gregorian University in Rome; and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He holds degrees in philosophy, sacred theology and canon law.
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