Nov. 30 Statement from the Diocese of Peoria

Catholic Post
December 4, 2005 issue

As announced today, nine new sex abuse lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Peoria, five priests and one religious sister. The cases being filed against the Diocese involve allegations of the sexual abuse of nine individuals dating back as far as almost 50 years ago. The priests accused in these lawsuits have all been previously removed by the diocese from all active ministries and are not currently functioning in any capacity. Specifically, within weeks of becoming Bishop of Peoria in April 2002, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., took action to remove Walter Breuning, Norman Goodman and Edward Bush from all active ministries after the Diocese was contacted by individuals with allegations of sexual abuse when they were minors. In addition, many of these individuals are the same people now filing suits against the Diocese.

Prior to 2002, the Diocese was not aware of any allegations involving the misconduct of Walter Breuning, Norman Goodman, Edward Bush or Louis Condon. In regard to the allegations concerning Toussaint J. Perron, he was never a diocesan priest. Rather, he was a member of a separate religious order who worked in the Diocese and was removed by the superiors of his own religious community in the late 1980's. Additionally in the 1980's, Louis Condon was removed from all active ministry due to circumstances not related to abuse of a minor. Lastly, the allegations regarding a religious sister, "Sister Mary Jane" are still unclear. At this point, the plaintiff's attorneys have not provided sufficient information to the Diocese to determine the identity of "Sister Mary Jane." Therefore, the diocese is unable to determine if "Sister Mary Jane" was ever affiliated with the Diocese.

Bishop Jenky again expresses his immense sorrow to anyone who suffered abuse from a priest, religious, employee or volunteer of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Three years ago, Bishop Jenky implemented several new initiatives in the Diocese of Peoria including background checks for diocesan full or part time personnel or volunteers working with minors. Bishop Jenky continues to cooperate with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) with the implementation of the Charter to Protect Children and Youth. The Diocese of Peoria has met all the requirements of the Charter.

The Bishop has repeatedly encouraged any individuals who have been sexual abused or anyone who believes that a child known to them has been abused to contact the Diocese. This appeal has appeared in various bulletins and Catholic newspapers. Furthermore, the names of the removed priests were released to the public at the time of their removal in 2002 and reported on other occasions.

Diocesan Attorney and Chancellor, Patricia Gibson noted: "We seriously question whether it would be a prudent use of diocesan assets to meet the monetary demands often placed on the diocese in abuse cases. The Diocese of Peoria takes seriously our obligations to victims but also must consider the needs of the entire faithful in the Diocese of Peoria. The Bishop remains faithful to his promise that all victims of abuse will be offered professional counseling for as long as needed. This alone is an enormous financial commitment that Bishop Jenky will continue to uphold."

Gibson, reiterated: "Bishop Jenky remains committed to his belief that the only way for authentic healing to occur is for victims of abuse to participate in professional counseling." Advisors to the Diocese have repeatedly stated that participation in professional counseling is the only thing that can provide effective assistance in dealing with these situations.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria will continue to work with the USCCB to maintain safe environments for the children of our diocese.


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