Priest May Return to Ministry
Archbishop Clears Him after Conduct Concerns

By Tom Heinen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 9, 2005

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan has given approval for Father Patrick O'Loughlin to return to active ministry as a priest in good standing. The decision comes slightly more than three years after the priest left his position as associate pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Milwaukee and went on leave amid concerns about some of his relationships with adults.

O'Loughlin, 39, is now on the archdiocese's help-out list to assist with sacraments at parishes within the 10-county archdiocese, and the process of determining his next assignment will soon begin, Dolan reported Thursday in a monthly e-mail letter to priests, deacons and parish directors.

Details of the concerns were never released, though Dolan stressed again in his letter that "none of these concerns were in any way about any inappropriate conduct with minors. . . . Now, after these past three years, and with Father O'Loughlin's cooperation, the archdiocese finds no obstacle to his return to pastoral ministry."

O'Loughlin, the only diocesan priest ordained here in 1999, expressed relief and gratitude to archdiocesan officials, family, and friends in a statement Thursday.

"I am glad that my time of exile within the church has ended," O'Loughlin said. "I promised myself that this day would come, and it has. In an important way, this is just the beginning rather than the end."

Dolan said he wanted "to correct some inaccurate reports." The archbishop noted that the priest: "does not have, and has never had, a psychological abnormality or sexual disorder; . . . is not, and never has been, a threat to children; given inappropriate attention to children, or committed any sexual or other type of misconduct with children; . . . was not, and has never been, dangerous to anyone."

Dolan added: "There is no evidence that Father O'Loughlin engaged in any sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or sexual abuse with any adult or minor, from St. Gregory the Great Parish or elsewhere, during his tenure at the parish . . .

"I regret the delay that prevented an earlier resolution of this situation, as well as the harm done to Father O'Loughlin's reputation, and have confidence that his return to ministry will bear rich fruit for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee."

O'Loughlin served at St. Gregory the Great from June 1999 to May 2002, leaving about six weeks before the end of his three-year assignment there.

>From the Sept. 9, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel