Marquette Wire

Bishop Sklba resigns, leaves diocese two openings to fill

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is saying farewell to another long-standing, devoted leader in the church.

Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba officially retired after Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation on October 18, 2010.

Sklba submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday, September 11, 2010, as required by canon law, according to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee website. He has been with the Archdiocese since 1976.

In a letter concerning his resignation, Sklba stated how deeply grateful he was to have been a part of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“These years have not always been easy, but they have inevitably offered many experiences of God’s loving mercy, grace, and growth,” Sklba said in the letter.

He was a bishop who knew how to talk to theologians, said Paul Misner, an emeritus professor of theology at Marquette.

“He was very assiduous with his duties and always had a good scriptural base homily when preaching,” Misner said.

He also was a huge proponent of ecumenical dialogue and was a point person for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on ecumenical dialogue between the religions, Misner said.

Dan Maguire, a professor of theology at Marquette, said Sklba always acted very kindly and was a gentle person, but had very little power as an auxiliary bishop.

“Unfortunately, like most bishops, Sklba reportedly participated in the cover-up of criminal activity, the sexual abuse by priests,” Maguire said in an e-mail.

Sklba supposedly signed off on a payment of “hush money” to Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette graduate student, with whom Archbishop Rembert Weakland had a romantic relationship, according to Maguire.

Misner said even though Sklba got into some trouble with the sexual abuse scandal, the extent of the situation here in Milwaukee is not as bad as other dioceses. Additionally, he said Sklba’s positive works within the church as auxiliary bishop far outweigh the negatives.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki’s said Bishop Sklba plans to stay involved with the archdiocese.

“True to his selfless sense of service, Bishop Sklba has pledged to me his continued support and his intention to continue to serve the archdiocese as a ‘retired’ bishop during this time of transition and until the end of 2010,” Listecki said in a letter on the Archdiocese’s website.

Sklba will also help by presiding over confirmations in early 2011, according to Julie Wolf, archdiocese communications director.

Wolf said Sklba has a few writing projects to work on in retirement and plans to spend Lent in 2011 on the Isle of Patmos, where it is thought that John wrote the Book of Revelation.

“I’ll miss Bishop Sklba’s wisdom and grace as a leader in the church of southeastern Wisconsin, as well as his warm and genuine spirit,” Wolf said.

With Sklba’s retirement, the archdiocese will have to fill two auxiliary bishop positions, after Auxiliary Bishop William Callahan transferred to the LaCrosse Archdiocese earlier this year.

No one has been named as Sklba’s replacement yet, but Misner says whoever does will have big shoes to fill. Milwaukee’s Archdiocese has gone through many changes since Archbishops Weakland’s retirement in 2002 and Timothy Dolan’s transfer to New York’s archdiocese in 2009.

“Hopefully this will be a lesson and the diocese will work to do better in the future,” Misner said.

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