Archdiocese of Chicago Statement Regarding
By Rev. Michael W. O’Connell
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago
April 15, 2014
Father Michael W. O’Connell is being reinstated to active ministry and will resume his role as Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago. Fr. O’Connell, a priest in good standing, agreed to step aside from his parish on December 4, 2013, when a formal allegation was presented to officials of the Archdiocese of Chicago that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor while assigned to Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park almost 20 years ago.
The allegation was received by the Archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review and reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Cook County State’s Attorney. In compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese conducted an investigation of the allegation. The Archdiocese also cooperated with the Cook County Sheriff, who conducted an independent investigation and concluded that the allegation was unfounded.
The Archdiocesan Independent Review Board, after a careful process always motivated by the need to protect children, did not find reason to suspect that sexual abuse of a minor had occurred and recommended that Fr. O’Connell be returned to active ministry. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, has accepted the Review Board’s determination and recommendation. Father O’Connell will return to St. Alphonsus and resume his duties as Pastor on Holy Thursday, April 17. The Cardinal joins the bishops and priests and laity of the Archdiocese in welcoming Fr. O’Connell, who has patiently accepted the restrictions on his ministry, to full participation in the life of the Archdiocese as one of our priests in good standing.
The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer, to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website under Protecting Children at www.archchicago.org or by calling the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review, 312-534-5205 or 1-800-994-6200, or the Office of Assistance Ministry, 312-534-8267 or toll-free at 866-517-4528.