Archbishop Dolan Speaks About Cults

NBC News TMJ 2, Milwaukee/May 12, 2008

Milwaukee Archdiocese Archbishop Timothy Dolan spoke about the dangers of cults on Sunday, after news broke of a self-proclaimed bishop and nun allegedly keeping a deceased 90-year-old woman's body in their house and cashing her Social Security checks.

The District Attorney in Juneau County called the couple a cult. They're accused of using religion to commit fraud.

Alan Bushey and Tammy Lewis allegedly kept the body of a 90-year-old woman sitting on the toilet for two months, claiming God would bring her back to life.

Archbishop Dolan says he isn't familiar with the group, but he was saddened to hear what they're accused of.

"That's not even religion, that's a terrible distortion and corruption of religion to even call that part of the patrimony and tradition of the church," Dolan said.

Bushey's children, a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, were living in the house with the body of a 90-year-old Magdalene Middlesworth.

Bushey calls himself a bishop, and Tammy Lewis calls herself "Sister Mary Burnadette." But their so-called Catholic church isn't recognized by Rome.

"Periodically throughout the church you'll get these crackpots who claim to be bishops or claim to be priests or even claim to be part of the church, and they're not, of course," Dolan said.

Archbishop Dolan says aside from warning the faithful, the church can't do much to stop cults. He calls the Necedah case a sad situation.

"That just goes against everything we stand for," Dolan said.

Bushey and Lewis have been charged with two felonies for causing mental harm to a child. Authorities are still looking into how Middlesworth died.

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