March 09, 2006

Local Catholics speak up for bishop

Yakima Herald-Republic


Catholics in Yakima reacted with dismay Wednesday to a Spokane woman's sex-abuse allegations against Bishop William Skylstad, former bishop of the Yakima Diocese.

Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and leader of the Spokane Diocese, is widely respected here, said Monsignor John Ecker of St. Paul Cathedral.

"I've always held him in the highest esteem," said Ecker. "He's the last person you would ever imagine doing this. But I wasn't there."

Skylstad categorically denied the allegations, filed with the Spokane Diocese. The woman claims that he sexually abused her from 1961 to 1964.

During Skylstad's tenure as bishop here, from 1977 to 1990, he was known as a strong leader who made hard decisions when he had to, Ecker recalled.

One of those decisions was closing down Carroll High School, a Catholic school, in the mid-1980s. The decision was unpopular, but Skylstad weathered the storm, said Ecker.

Posted by kshaw at March 9, 2006 08:21 AM