Archdiocese Probing Sex Charges against Priest

By Steve Kloehn
Chicago Tribune
March 31, 1999

An Elmwood Park priest who also served as host of a television program was suspended from his duties Tuesday after two men came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior 13 years ago in Chicago, according to the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

Rev. Walter DeRoeck, pastor of St. Celestine Catholic Church in Elmwood Park, was pastor of St. John Berchmans Church in the Logan Square neighborhood in 1986 when the alleged incidents occurred, said archdiocese spokeswoman Mary McDonough. The two men were minors at the time.

DeRoeck, 54--known to many as one of the rotating hosts of "Sanctuary," a religious talk show co-produced by area religious organizations and WLS-TV--was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese following an initial inquiry into the charges. His television duties also have been suspended, McDonough said.

The allegations will be reviewed by a nine-member board that includes three priests, a psychologist, a lawyer and other laypeople. The board will make recommendations to Cardinal Francis George in 30 to 120 days. The allegations also were forwarded to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

DeRoeck was pastor of St. John Berchmans from 1985 to 1991. After a year's sabbatical, he became associate pastor at St. Catherine Laboure in Glenview and was then named pastor of St. Celestine in 1996.

He served on the faculty of Quigley North high school seminary from 1976 to 1985, and at the same time he was associate pastor at Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Cicero. His first appointment, from 1971 to 1976, was at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge.

Rev. Lawrence Sullivan, associate pastor of St. Celestine, will handle administrative duties while DeRoeck's case is under review.

McDonough said the two men who made the allegations have been offered counseling and other assistance, and DeRoeck is now in a "monitored setting."


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