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Sex Abuse Charges Force Priest To Leave Ministry

Jan 23, 2003 | Pioneer Press Online
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Parishioners at Queen of the Rosary Catholic Church in Elk Grove were told on Jan. 5 that one of its priests had been permanently removed from his position in the wake of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Archdiocese of Chicago’s independent Fitness Review Board recommended that Cardinal Francis George remove the Rev. John A. Robinson, 57, from the church in late December.

Robinson, an associate pastor at Queen of the Rosary, was accused of sexual misconduct while he was an associate pastor at St. Priscilla Parish on Chicago’s Northwest Side nearly 30 years ago. He was associate pastor at St. Priscilla from January 1973 to June 1979.

During the Jan. 5 service, Queen of the Rosary Pastor, the Rev. Arthur Fagan read from a letter from Auxiliary Bishop Jerome Listecki explaining why Robinson was removed from the ministry.

“The Archdiocese’s independent Fitness Review Board made the recommendation that Father Robinson be removed after a second stage review. This recommendation was in accordance with Archdiocesan policies for dealing with allegations of clerical sexual misconduct and was accepted by Francis Cardinal George... It is still subject to investigation in a judicial process.”

So far, no criminal charges have been filed against Robinson.

Robinson was associate pastor at Queen of the Rosary from July 1994 until a few weeks ago.

He was ordained in May 1971 and served at a total of six different parishes in the Chicagoland area during his career, including St. Emily in Mount Prospect from June 1979 to Sept. 1979, St. Damian in Oak Forest from Oct. 1979 to June 1987 and St. Edward on Chicago’s Northwest Side from June 1987 to July 1994.

Chicago Archdiocese Director of Communications Jim Dwyer said that the Archdiocese last summer received the complaint about Robinson that led to his removal. The allegation said that Robinson had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor when he was in his late 20s and just beginning his career. The victim was an underaged teen at the time of the alleged incident, Dwyer said.

The action is the first taken by the Archdiocese under a new national church policy approved by the Vatican in recent months. The allegations of misconduct were reported to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, but it is unclear as yet if any criminal action will be taken against Robinson.

Robinson’s case was reviewed by the Archdiocese’s Fitness Review Board and their recommendation to remove him from the church was made in line with the Archdiocese’s policy for allegations of sexual misconduct.

Robinson is barred from public ministry and has been living in a restricted residence. He has also been ordered not to have any contact with children, Dwyer said.

Robinson will have to go through a canonical trial in order to be permanently removed from the church, but neither a date for the trial, nor for his dismissal, has been set.

Dwyer said the trial date would not likely take place anytime soon.

“That part of the process is well off, but (Robinson) can’t function in any capacity within the ministry in any way, shape, or form,” he said.

Listecki said he sympathized with the parishioners of Queen of the Rosary.

“Many of you are aware of the good works that Father Robinson performed as a priest here at Queen of the Rosary in Elk Grove Village. I know that these are difficult times for everyone concerned. Our hope continues to be in our faith knowing that the Lord will grant our petitions for healing. Therefore, as a parish and a church, I ask for your continued prayers for all who have been affected by this painful issue,” he said.
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