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  2 Priests Removed in Sex Abuse
First Archdiocese Action under New U.S. Church Policy

By Lucio Guerrero
Chicago Sun-Times
January 6, 2003

Parishioners of two Chicago area Roman Catholic churches were told Sunday that their priests are being removed from the ministry for sexual misconduct.

The actions against the Rev. Raymond F. Skriba, 70, and the Rev. John A. Robinson, 57, were recommended by the Chicago Archdiocese's independent Fitness Review Board and accepted by Cardinal Francis George in late December.

Skriba, who was pastor at St. Joseph in Round Lake, was accused of sexual misconduct with minors nearly 40 years ago. Robinson, who was serving as associate pastor at Queen of the Rosary in Elk Grove Village, was accused of sexual misconduct nearly 30 years ago.

A letter written by Auxiliary Bishop Jerome E. Listecki was read to parishioners Sunday.

"I know that these are difficult times for everyone concerned," Listecki wrote. "Our hope continues to be in our faith knowing that the Lord will grant our petitions for healing."

Parishioners at both churches were informed the archdiocese had reported the abuse allegations to the Cook County and Lake County state's attorney's offices. Counselors from the archdiocese were at both churches Sunday to help deal with any questions or grief over the announcements.

"It's just an unfortunate thing when you hear something like this, and everyone is pretty much down in the dumps," said Thaddeus Czarnecki, a deacon at Queen of the Rosary and a parishioner there for 25 years. "To me, John Robinson is a decent man--a good teacher, a good priest and a good Christian.

It was the first action against priests here since the Vatican approved a new sex-abuse policy last year for the U.S. church.

Both priests have been with the Chicago Archdiocese for decades:

*Skriba was ordained in March 1957 and has served at six parishes. He served as pastor at St. Joseph from October 1984 until July 2002, when he was placed on administrative leave in a monitoring program after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

He was accused of abusing two teenage girls while he was assigned to St. Gertrude Parish in Franklin Park. Church officials said they were removing Skriba six months after its review board found "reasonable cause" to suspect him of sexually abusing teenage girls in the 1960s.

One of the victims said she was upset that the priest will not admit to any wrongdoing. "Skriba continues to deny the abuse in spite of a substantial amount of evidence to the contrary," said the woman, now living in Florida.

*Robinson was ordained in May 1971 and also served at six parishes throughout the archdiocese. He was associate pastor of Queen of the Rosary from July 1994 to earlier this month. Church officials said they received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Robinson last summer. He is accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor nearly 30 years ago while serving as an associate pastor at St. Priscilla Parish in Chicago.

Listecki said Robinson was residing in a monitored and restricted setting and has been directed not to be alone with minors.

Both of the priests' cases were reviewed by the archdiocese's independent Fitness Review Board. The board then made its recommendation to remove the priests in accordance with archdiocesan policies for dealing with allegations of clerical sexual misconduct.

George approved the recommendations in late December.

Members of SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said they welcomed the decision to remove the priests but wondered why it took so long.

"We hope that these steps brings some healing and closure to the brave men and women victimized by these priests, and we're grateful that these victims had the strength and courage to disclose their pain and fight to see other children protected," said David Clohessy, executive director of the group. "Archdiocesan leaders owe Chicago area Catholics a clear and honest explanation for why this process took so long and why youngsters were left at risk for months and months."

 
 

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