Suit: Cleric Abused Teen Repeatedly
Chester Przybylo: Chicago Archdiocese Rejected His Application, Joliet Hasn't Recognized Him
By Ted Slowik
The Herald News
March 23, 2006
Winfield — Abuse allegations about a rogue priest serving within the Diocese of Joliet are raising new questions about the Roman Catholic Church's ability to protect children.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the cleric, Chester Przybylo, of repeatedly abusing a Polish immigrant at various locations in Chicago beginning when the boy was 13 years old in 1987. The boy was molested at the rectory of Five Holy Martyrs Church, at a private residence and at a health club, the suit alleges.
The reported victim, now in his 30s, says he first reported the abuse to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1989, said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The boy told the late Rev. Alfred Leo Abramowicz, an auxiliary bishop, who scolded the boy and told him to go to confession for lying, said the man's attorney, Marc Pearlman.
Ten years later, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch met with Przybylo regarding his ministry saying traditional Masses in Latin at the Shrine of Christ the King in Winfield, Blaine said.
"If Imesch didn't know (about the reported abuse), it's a huge problem," Blaine said. "The question is, why didn't the archdiocese notify them (in Joliet)? The result is that kids are at risk."
During his years in Chicago, Przybylo was a priest visiting from Poland who tried to transfer to the archdiocese. His application was rejected, and his faculty — or official recognition of his ability to serve — was revoked when he left Chicago, said Jim Dwyer, archdiocese spokesman. The archdiocese has no record that the alleged abuse was ever reported, he said.
Przybylo continues to have contact with young altar boys serving at the shrine, Pearlman said.
"This shows failures of communication at every level," Pearlman said.
Przybylo's clerical status is unclear. The Joliet Diocese has never officially recognized his ministry, spokesman Tom Kerber said.
Web sites link the Winfield shrine to a religious organization known as the Society of St. Pius X. The Rev. Steven McDonald, the society's district secretary, said Przybylo and the shrine are in no way affiliated with the organization.
Przybylo also served in Pennsylvania and New York and answered to a bishop in his native Poland, reports indicate. Author Bill Grossklas of Elmhurst, who has researched the Society of St. Pius X, wrote in 1999 that Przybylo had refused the commands of his bishop in Poland and would be considered to be in a state of schism, or separation from the church.
That raises questions about whether any church authority has the ability to place Przybylo on administrative leave or restrict his access to children while the sexual abuse claims are investigated.
Phone calls to the Winfield shrine went unanswered.
Przybylo and the Archdiocese of Chicago are defendants in the lawsuit, Pearlman said.
Contact Ted Slowik at (815) 729-6053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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