Despite Allegations of Abuse, Chicago-area Priest Allowed to Keep Working
Despite having been banned from ministry for sexual abuse by a CA bishop in 2014, a Chicago-area Catholic priest was allowed to keep working in various places in Illinois, even after his religious superiors had been made aware of the allegations against him. This is exactly the kind of secrecy and arrogance that has allowed the Church's sexual abuse scandal to continue unabated through to the present day.
There must be punishments for Catholic leaders at the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the religious order that allowed Fr. Joseph Jablonski to keep working for years after they were informed by the Diocese of San Bernardino that the priest had been accused of grooming a child for sexual abuse. We are not surprised that Church officials from Fr. Jablonski’s order have downplayed his grooming behavior as “an inappropriate conversation” – the use of sanitizing and disarming language is a key element of the Catholic Church’s abuse response playbook that was exposed by A.G. Josh Shapiro in his 2018 bombshell investigation. We hope that parishioners and the communities where the priest lived can see through the self-serving and deceptive statements by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and will demand public answers.
It is notable that the preliminary report released by then-Illinois AG Lisa Madigan found that there were at least 690 priests accused of abuse in Illinois despite Catholic officials throughout the state admitting to only 185. We can only wonder how many other perpetrators are still in ministry despite their superiors being aware of allegations against them. It is difficult to believe that Fr. Jablonski is the only one.
This news underscores the clear need for secular oversight of Church institutions and for all allegations of abuse to be immediately reported to police and prosecutors. It is clear that, despite years of scandal, Catholic officials will continue to protect their reputations while putting children in danger. The Church hierarchy, even now, insists on telling as few people as possible about known or suspected abuse or misdeeds.
We hope that this story will encourage anyone in Illinois or California, or anywhere else, who saw, suspected, or suffered wrongdoing by this priest or any other to call independent sources of help like police, prosecutors, therapists or support groups like ours.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)