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Church May Put 2 Priests On Trial

Jan 6, 2003 | Chicago Daily Herald

Two suburban priests may be among the first in the Chicago Archdiocese to face a church trial under the Catholic Church's new sexual abuse guidelines.

The Archdiocese of Chicago will ask permission of the Vatican to put the Revs. John A. Robinson of Elk Grove Village and Raymond F. Skriba of Round Lake through a canonical, or church law, trial to permanently remove them from the priesthood, spokeswoman Mary McDonough said Sunday.

That means the priests could be "dismissed from the clerical state," McDonough said.

They are among the first to face such trials since the church's new standards for sexual abuse by priests were approved Dec. 8 by the Vatican.

Just when the Chicago Archdiocese will make the request is uncertain because bishops are still establishing guidelines for such trials, McDonough said.

"This has never been done here before," McDonough said.

Parishioners at Queen of the Rosary parish in Elk Grove Village and St. Joseph parish in Round Lake were told Saturday that Robinson, 57, and Skriba, 70, were removed from their respective ministries.

Skriba was initially banned from public ministry in July, after the archdiocese's Professional Fitness Review Board found "reasonable cause" to believe allegations he sexually abused two girls about 40 years ago, when he was an associate pastor at St. Gertrude parish in West suburban Franklin Park.

Skriba had fought his removal, but Saturday's decision "was a reaffirmation" of the board's original conclusion, McDonough said.

Robinson was removed over an allegation that he engaged in sexual misconduct about 30 years ago, when he was an associate pastor at St. Priscilla parish on Chicago's Northwest Side. The victim, an underage teen boy at the time, came forward last summer, McDonough said.

His allegation was reported to the Cook County state's attorney's office, and the archdiocese's review board met to determine whether reasonable cause existed to believe him, McDonough said.

The board initially decided there was insufficient information, but invited the man to present further evidence if he had it. After he did so, the board met in the fall to re-review the case and found reasonable cause, she said.

That finding and a recommendation for removal were given to Cardinal Francis George, who accepted them in December.

A state's attorney spokeswoman said she could not determine Sunday whether a criminal investigation of Robinson is under way.

Robinson is now permanently barred from public ministry, and "will now live in a monitored, private setting and cannot be alone with children," McDonough said.

Skriba has been living with a family member in a private location since July, and has not had access to any part of the church, officials said.

In Jan. 4 letter to both parishes, Auxiliary Bishop Jerome Listecki said parishioners with "additional information or a concern" should contact their parish officials, the archdiocese's fitness review administrator or report allegations directly to the Cook or Lake County state's attorney's offices.

A 53-year-old woman, who said she is a victim of Skriba, says the archdiocese did the right thing but took too long to act after she filed a complaint in April.

"There were many times I felt like giving up," she said Sunday. "It was very galling while it was going on, but I understand that they needed to hear both sides." The woman lives out of state and requested anonymity.

More than 20 priests have been removed from the Chicago Archdiocese over the last 10 years.

Archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy Lago is expected to file a detailed report on the priests who have so far been removed from ministry within the month.

Church: Both of the men have been removed from ministry

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