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Apostolic Movement

No other conclusion – Renewed investigation into allegations made by an American citizen against Father Kentenich.

By: H. Brehm/C. Becker

On May 3, 2022, a press release from the Diocese of Trier announced that Bishop Dr. Stephan Ackermann would not actively pursue the beatification process for Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of the International Schoenstatt Work, at this time. He encouraged further free research that can help to clarify the unresolved questions. In this context, the bishop also announced that he had the accusations of an American citizen, who accused Father Kentenich of sexual abuse, re-examined.

As the Bishop of Trier had already explained in a March 10, 2021 interview in the diocesan newspaper “Paulinus” (link), this accusation had already been investigated in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1994/95. In the interview, the bishop summarized, “The investigation of the allegations by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee resulted in a report written by the archdiocesan tribunal. That report expressed the conviction that there was no need to pursue the matter further at that time. As part of the diocesan phase, all of the documents were sent to us. They have been evaluated with the conclusion that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s investigation is coherent and can be considered conclusive.”

Some 25 years later, however, the bishop wondered “whether the investigation at that time can also be considered sufficient according to today’s criteria, or whether aspects have been left out that absolutely must still be included for a final evaluation.”

Bishop Ackermann then commissioned attorney Steven M. Biskupic, a former U.S. district attorney, to conduct a new investigation into the aforementioned allegations. Early this year, the bishop received a detailed report and a summary of the findings, written by the same lawyer. This summary was shared with the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Work, and published on the homepage of the diocese.

In his remarks, the lawyer makes clear that the detailed investigation already carried out in Milwaukee in 1994/95 had taken more steps toward clarification than were legally necessary at that time. However, according to the lawyer, the significant time interval between the alleged events and today means that “unfortunately for all concerned, due to … the death of key witnesses, ‘conclusiveness’ cannot be obtained.” He suggests that the unsubstantiated allegations “should be considered as a factor in a broader study of the life of Father Kentenich.” In his summary, the lawyer refers to the fact that “in the meantime,
further accusations against Father Kentenich from his time in South America have become known.” By this he obviously means the accusations brought forward by Sr. Georgia Wagner, which concerned encounters with Fr. Kentenich in Chile. These were already known in the beatification process.

For its part, the Schoenstatt Movement is making the lawyer’s summary document available here. As is customary in the U.S., for legal reasons it makes no reference to the person of the accuser; the person is referred to by a fictitious name. For the sake of protecting the privacy of the individual, legally it is not permissible to publish the lawyer’s report.

Link to PDF file at the diocese


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