ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX/AP) — “I was nine years old, this was in 1940 so this gives you some idea on how old I am,” explains alleged priest abuse victim Fred Carr.
Carr waited seventy years to tell his story of abuse at the hands of the late Father John Wieberg.
Rev. Wieberg died nearly a half-century ago, but his affect on the lives of many still remain. The Archdiocese of St. Louis is now reaching out to potential victims abused by Rev. Wieberg.
So far five people have come forward alleging abuse that happened from the mid-1940s through the early 1960s.
Phil Hengen, director of the archdiocesan office of Child and Youth Protection, said Monday the archdiocesan Review Board deemed the allegations credible.
“We still don’t know the possible extent of the problem,” Hengen said. “Sometimes folks have to get the courage up to come forward with something they’ve been sitting on for many, many years because of shame and embarrassment.”
That was the case for Fred Carr who didn’t tell his family for over sixty years. He says hiding that secret ate away at his life. “I’ve had a lot of depression over the years,” says Carr as he encourages other victims of clergy abuse to speak up, saying its not only the right thing to do, but an important step in the healing process.
“My message to any other victims out there is come forward. The church needs to get itself cleaned up,” Carr said.
The Rev. Wieberg was 32 when he was ordained in 1918 and served as pastor at parishes in Advance, Charleston and Arcadia in southern Missouri, and Josephville in St. Charles County, before retiring in 1961. He died in 1963.
Archdiocese officials don’t normally make announcements about allegedly abusive priests who have died because the priest can’t defend himself. But Archbishop Robert Carlson said he wants to give any other potential abuse victims the chance to come forward.
“Even though Rev. Wieberg cannot respond to the allegations, I have a moral obligation to others who may have been abused to assist them with their healing,” Carlson said in a statement.