The sharing session, organized by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is believed to be the first one in the nation that involved victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and the hierarchy in the planning and in giving responses at the event, according to Milwaukeean Peter Isely, one of the panelists and a member of the national board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The panelists included Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann. McCann told one victim who was abused while on an out-of-state trip with a priest that it still might be possible to prosecute the man because statutes of limitations vary from state to state.
Dolan thanked those who had suffered crimes at the hands of priests for coming and renewed a previous call for victims to come forward.
"The psychological, emotional and physical horror of what was done to you by people who dared to say they represented the Lord is beyond belief," said Dolan, who stressed that he did believe and respect the survivors for their courage in coming forward.
Dolan was visibly moved by the speakers, at times removing his glasses and wiping his eyes with a white handkerchief. After one 47-year-old man sobbingly recalled being abused by a priest decades ago when he was an altar server and a choirboy, Dolan left the stage and embraced him.