STATEMENT OF CHANCELLOR JIMMY M. LAGO
archdiocese of chicago
Re: Conclusion of Canonical Process for Eleven Priests
September 26, 2005
Two years ago, the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, forwarded to the Holy See the cases of fourteen priests who had been withdrawn from public ministry because of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. All of the allegations had been reported to the civil authorities, and parishes were notified when the priests were withdrawn. The Holy See agreed to review the cases, even though the activity fell outside of the statute of limitations in Canon Law.
The Holy See last year reviewed and confirmed Cardinal George’s acceptance of the advice of the Archdiocese’s Independent Review Board that there was reason to suspect that sexual misconduct had occurred. According to Canon Law, the Holy See authorized Cardinal George to resolve the cases locally in the archdiocese and instructed the Cardinal on how to proceed in each case. One priest is deceased and no further action could be taken in his case. Eleven cases were to be decided administratively and two by canonical trials. The trials remain pending, but the eleven other cases are now resolved either by imposing specific canonical penalties or using administrative remedies under Church law. In making his determinations, Cardinal George reviewed all of the material collected in the cases, listened to the opinions of the advocates for the priests and sought advice from his own canonical advisors as well as from assessors who are canon lawyers independent of the Archdiocese. In each of the eleven cases, Cardinal George has determined, based on the information presented, that sexual misconduct did occur. As a result, Cardinal George has prohibited each of the priests from engaging in any public ministry, presenting himself as a priest or acting as an agent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. These actions mean that the commitments made by the U.S. bishops in Dallas in 2002 in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and subsequently implemented both in policy and practice here in the Archdiocese will be sustained.
In accord with our policies and procedures, victims and the affected parish communities will be informed about the resolution of the cases.