January 16, 2006

Bishop Apologizes for Handling of Priest

Record Searchlight

Associated Press Writer

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- A Roman Catholic bishop apologized Sunday for the way the diocese handled complaints about a late priest who is believed to have later killed two funeral home workers.

Diocese of Superior Bishop Raphael Fliss promised changes, including better evaluation of priests and improved communication with parishes to resolve complaints.

"I know that ultimate responsibility for much of what has taken place rests upon my shoulders," he told about 700 people at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

A Wisconsin judge ruled that the Rev. Ryan Erickson almost certainly shot to death funeral home director Dan O'Connell, 39, and employee James Ellison, 22, in 2002.

St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson said evidence suggests O'Connell learned the priest was sexually abusing someone, was providing alcohol to minors, or both. Erickson committed suicide in 2004, just days after police questioned him in the slayings.

Posted by kshaw at January 16, 2006 05:46 AM