Read by Most. Rev. Francis J. Kane, Auxiliary Bishop and Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate II, at Masses on August 13-14, 2005.
Dear members of the Queen of Angels Parish family,
As you know, earlier this summer Fr. Bill O’Brien was temporarily withdrawn as pastor of your parish following receipt of an allegation that, approximately 25 years ago, he engaged in sexual misconduct with a person under 18 years of age. In accordance with Archdiocesan policies, the independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago conducted an Initial Review and determined that the matter warranted further inquiry. Cardinal George accepted that determination. The Board further recommended that Fr. O’Brien be withdrawn from parish ministry pending this inquiry. The Cardinal accepted this recommendation and made the decision to temporarily withdraw Fr. O’Brien from ministry. The allegation was reported to the Cook County State’s Attorney. As mentioned at the time, the Review Board process usually takes between one and six months.
Recently, the Review Board conducted a Review for Cause of the matter and determined that there is reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of a minor occurred. Cardinal George has accepted the Board’s determination and has decided that Fr. O’Brien’s withdrawal from ministry continues.
As he is obliged to do in accord with the norms established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and approved by the Holy See, Cardinal George is referring the issue of Fr. O’Brien’s future in ministry to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a determination. This process usually takes at least 12 to 24 months.
Until the canonical process, which assesses Fr. O’Brien’s fitness for any future church ministry, has been completed, Fr. O’Brien will remain on administrative leave. He will continue to reside in a monitored and restricted setting, and will not be permitted to engage in any priestly ministry. Fr. O’Brien will not return to the parish during this process.
For the immediate future, Fr. Bob Heidenreich will continue to serve as administrator at Queen of Angels Parish, assisted by Frs. Lamping and Griffiths.
When I first spoke with you about this issue two months ago, I asked you to join me in praying for all people in need of the Lord’s peace and healing: for the adult who brought this concern to the Archdiocese, for Fr. O’Brien, and for all those affected by the horror of sexual abuse. At this sad time, now, I want to assure you of my prayers – and of Cardinal George’s -- for all of you. When I have any more information about this situation, or about the future of pastoral leadership at Queen of Angels, I will share it with you promptly.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Francis J. Kane
Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate I I