Donald Walter Trautman
|Bishop Emeritus of Erie|
|Appointed||June 2, 1990|
|Installed||July 16, 1990|
|Term ended||July 31, 2012|
|Predecessor||Michael Joseph Murphy|
|Successor||Lawrence T. Persico|
|Ordination||April 2, 1962|
by Paulus Rusch
|Consecration||April 16, 1985|
by Edward Dennis Head, Bernard Joseph McLaughlin, and Stanislaus Joseph Brzana
|Born||June 24, 1936|
Buffalo, New York
|Motto||Feed my sheep|
Donald Walter Trautman
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Donald Trautman was born in Buffalo, New York, and attended Niagara University in Lewiston. He studied theology under Karl Rahner at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, from where he obtained his Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1962. He was ordained to the priesthood in Innsbruck on April 7, 1962, for the Diocese of Buffalo. Upon his return, he was successively made a parish administrator in Collins and associate pastor in Buffalo.
He later studied biblical language for one year at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., continuing his post-graduate work in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, earning his licentiate in Scripture in 1965. During his studies in Rome, Trautman served as a peritus, or theological expert, at the Second Vatican Council. In 1966, he earned his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).
From 1966 to 1973, he taught Scripture and theology at St. John Vianney Seminary (now Christ the King Seminary), where he also served as dean of students. Trautman worked as a retreat master for Roman Catholic religious communities, and vice-president and president of Buffalo's Pastoral Council. He was private secretary to Bishop Edward Head, and later named Chancellor (1973) and Vicar General (1974) of Buffalo. He was raised to the rank of an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1975.
On February 27, 1985, Trautman was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo and Titular Bishop of Sassura by Pope John Paul II. He received episcopal consecration on the following April 16 from Bishop Head, with Bishops Bernard Joseph McLaughlin and Stanislaus Joseph Brzana serving as co-consecrators, at St. Joseph Cathedral. After a period of pastoral work, he became rector of Christ the King Seminary.
Trautman was later named Bishop of Diocese of Erie in Erie, Pennsylvania on June 2, 1990. As Bishop of Erie, he energized the diocesan youth and vocational programs, renovated the interior of St. Peter Cathedral, and established a diocesan Deposit and Loan Fund and a retirement home for clergy dedicated in honor of his predecessor, Bishop Michael Joseph Murphy.
He is a participant of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, having served as chairman of the Committees on Doctrine, USCCB Financial Audit, and currently Liturgy. Trautman has also been the episcopal moderator of the Apostleship of the Sea and of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.
The edition of April 4, 2007 of L'Osservatore Romano accidentally announced Bishop Trautman had died when he was confused with former bishop Michael Murphy, who had died April 2. The mistake was also noted by a cartoon in The Tablet.
He was critical of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and indicated that those priests who celebrate such a Mass would first need to show that they have the requisite knowledge of its rubrics and of Latin. Trautman has been a vocal proponent of "inclusive language" and was appointed chairman of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) from 1993-1996 during a period of great controversy and extended debates over the proposed revisions of the "Sacramentary" (Roman Missal) and the revised translation of the Lectionary. The Holy See eventually rejected the Committee's proposed "Sacramentary" in 1998. Bishop Trautman is also on the editorial board of "We Believe!", a group of progressive liturgists organized in 1994 to oppose "roll backs" in liturgical reform.
In June 2011, Bishop Trautman turned 75, at which point Canon Law requests that a bishop tender his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Trautman's successor, Lawrence T. Persico, was named as the tenth bishop of Erie on July 31, 2012 at which point Pope Benedict XVI officially accepted Trautman's resignation.
Handling of sex abuse cases
On August 14, 2018, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro published a grand jury report concerning sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Erie. In the report, Trautman was criticized alongside former Bishop Michael Murphy for allowing "predator priest" Chester Gawronski to remain in the Diocese despite numerous allegations of sexual abuse. Trautman afterwards released a statement criticizing Shapiro's portrayal of him in the report and noted that he had established guidelines in 1993 concerning how to deal with sexual abuse and later established the Diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth in 2003 to protect children from sex abuse. Nevertheless, it was acknowledged that both Murphy and Trautman reassigned Gawronski multiple times between 1987 and 2002 and that Trautman renewed Gawronski's five-year term as a chaplain in St Mary's Home in Erie in 2001.
Two secret memos which were published by Erie priest and future Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown Mark Bartchak in August 2005 also revealed that Bartchak had told Trautman he had become aware of more witnesses to past sex abuse cases while investigating a sex abuse case against former Erie priest William Presley and that Trautman afterwards ordered that "additional witnesses should not be contacted, especially given the fact that it is not likely that they will lead to information" about crimes against minors. A male accuser had previously disclosed his allegations of sexual abuse against Presley to the Erie Diocese in 1982, 1987, and 2002. Presley had also transferred to the Harrisburg Diocese in 1986.
In June 2019, James Bottlinger, who is suing the Diocese of Buffalo in the state of New York, accused Trautman of protecting his abuser Rev Michael Freeman from potential prosecution when Trautman served as the second-highest ranking official in the Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s. Trautman denies seeing Bottlinger in Freeman's private quarters. Bottlinger, who claims that Freeman started abusing him in 1984 later stated that Trautman told him "You should have never put yourself in that position" when he met with Trautman to report the abuse. Two other men accused Freeman of molesting them when they were boys and complaints against Freeman surfaced as early as 1981. Freeman died in 2010.
- "1990-Present". Diocese of Erie. Archived from the original on August 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
- Bruce, David (June 3, 2007). "Report of bishop's death a whopper". Erie Times-News. Retrieved July 1, 2007.
- O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (July 12, 2007). "U.S. bishops say pope affirming importance of Mass in both its forms". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- "Bishops Send Mixed Signals at USCCB Meeting" January 2005
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Top Buffalo diocese official allegedly scolded boy who accused priest of abuse". The Buffalo News. June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Man who refused $650K settlement says diocese knew priest was predator". The Buffalo News. June 18, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
|Catholic Church titles|
Michael Joseph Murphy
| Bishop of Erie
Lawrence T. Persico
| Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo
Vincent Ignatius Kennally
|— TITULAR —
Bishop of Sassura