Abuse victims blast Catholic officials’ secrecy
Abuse victims blast Catholic officials’ secrecy
They want names added to church ‘accused’ list
Four priests are ‘missing’- two admitted abuse
“Bishop can’t pretend they weren’t here,” victims say
Belleville prelate soon celebrates his first anniversary
He recently & quietly ‘outed’ three other accused priests
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and advocates will disclose
--- the names of four alleged predator priests who are or were in the Belleville diocese, are NOT on the official diocesan ‘credibly accused’ list and have attracted little if any attention here, and
--- the names of three alleged predator priests against whom local church officials have quietly acted in recent months.
They will also prod Belleville’s bishop to
--add four men to his “credibly accused” clergy list, and
--notify the public, not just some parishioners, when action is taken against child molesting clerics in the future.
Finally, they’ll urge anyone in Illinois who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to contact the AG who is conducting a statewide investigation into this on-going crisis.
Thursday, April 15 at 1:15 p.m.
Outside the Belleville IL Catholic diocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 222 South Third
Three-four Belleville Catholics and abuse victims who belong to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and/or FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.
-----1) A year ago, Bishop Michael McGovern took over as head of the Belleville diocese. SNAP has been disappointed in his “continual secrecy” on abuse.
The victims group charges that at least four predator priests are not on McGovern’s ‘credibly accused’ clerics list but should be. They are Fr. Gavin O’Connor, Fr. John Wielebski, Fr. Real "Ray" Bourque and Fr. Dennis J. McClintock.
---Fr. O’Connor was put on the Bridgeport diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list in 2015. He admitted molesting three boys, one of whom committed suicide and one of whom settled his civil lawsuit against church officials for $200,000.)
In 1993, despite abuse reports against him in Connecticut, he was given his own parish in Cobden IL. He also worked in New York, Arizona and California and saw a therapist in St. Louis. He has been defrocked.
---Fr. Wielebski was put on the Baltimore archdiocese’s list of ‘credibly accused’ priests in 2010. From 1978-1981, he worked at the federal prison in Marion, IL.
He faced at least three allegations of sexual misconduct. Baltimore church officials removed Wielebski from ministry and revoked his faculties to function as a priest. He also belonged to a religious order called the Trinitarians (a.k.a. Order of the Most Holy Trinity).
Fr. Bourque admitted abusing teens in the 1990s and was sent to treatment twice (1979 and 1994). He also worked in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and for the biggest Catholic media outlet in the US (Eternal Word TV Network) for 12 years.
He belonged to a Belleville-based religious order called the Oblates (618 398 4848, [email protected]).
--Fr. Dennis J. McClintock was put on the St. Louis archdiocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list in 2019 and has been defrocked. Until 2009, he managed of a hotel used for retreats at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows in Belleville. In 2019, he was working as a physical therapy rehab aide in O'Fallon.
----2) In July 2020, McGovern did quietly add two names of accused diocesan priests to the ‘credibly accused’ list: Fr Thomas W. Miller and Fr Arthur W. Niemeyer.
In October 2020, McGovern suspended Fr. Anthony Onyango from churches in Albers and Damiansville for alleged child sexual abuse. (He also worked in Carbondale.)
At the time, diocesan spokesman Fr. John Myler promised to “decide within about a week if (those allegations) are deemed credible.” SNAP has seen nor heard anything since then.
But in all of these cases, SNAP says that the bishop should have notified the public, not just the parishioners. And now, SNAP says, McGovern should “personally visit the churches where these three clerics worked, urging those with knowledge or suspicions to make a report to police.”
----3) Finally, SNAP is begging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups in southern Illinois to contact the Illinois attorney general who is investigating all of the state’s dioceses. [email protected].
In 2019, SNAP urged Belleville church officials to add these accused abusers to their list: Fr. Fred Lenczycki, Fr. Chester E. Gaiter, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts and Fr. Larry Lorenzoni. Months later, the latter three were added but Lenczycki has not been.
According to the Belleville diocesan website, at least a dozen credibly accused clerics who are or were in the diocese are still alive: Fr. James R. Calhoun, Fr. Robert Chlopecki, Fr. David G. Crook, Fr. Raymond Kownacki, Fr. Louis Peterson, Fr. Jerome Ratermann, Fr. Gary Sebaseck, Fr. Michael Charland, Fr. James V. Fitzgerald, Fr. Thomas P. Purcell and Fr. Francis Skube.