2 Catholic Priests Removed
Sex Abuse Alleged against Priests with Ties to St. Fabian, St. Cajetan
By William Lee and Courney Greve
June 6, 2005
Two Catholic priests with ties to the Southland have been removed from service in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse of minors, officials said.
The Rev. Walter Turlo has resigned as pastor of St. Fabian in Bridgeview, where he has led a congregation of 4,000 families for nine years, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Turlo is accused of "highly inappropriate behavior" with a minor while he was associate pastor at St. William on the Northwest Side in the 1970s, officials said.
The Rev. Bill O'Brien has also been discharged due to an allegation that he engaged in "sexual misconduct with a minor" about 25 years ago when he was associate pastor at St. Cajetan in Chicago's Morgan Park community, officials said.
O'Brien was pulled from his position as pastor at Queen of Angels on the Northwest Side, officials said.
The decisions to remove the priests came after preliminary investigations by the archdiocese's review board.
"We pray for them and for the parishes that are affected by this," Cardinal Francis George said. "I'm very, very sorry."
Both men are reportedly cooperating with the archdiocese and are currently in seclusion.
The allegations have been reported to the Cook County state's attorney's office. Officials from the office could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Longtime St. Cajetan parishioner Christine Scales was at mass Sunday morning when the parish administrator read the archdiocesan letter about O'Brien.
"You could hear a pin drop," she said. "People were shocked."
As with any allegation, Scales said she is hesistant to make any judgement until all the facts are revealed.
Scales said O'Brien was "well-liked and well-respected" during his time at St. Cajetan, and he has kept ties to the South Side parish.
For example, O'Brien returns each year for the parish's St. Patrick's Day Parade Mass, she said.
"He's a part of Cajetan's," she said. "It's devastating for people here."
At St. Fabian's, parishioner Tom Paluch had a similar reaction.
Paluch is chairman of the parish's Family Fest and Carnival, which starts on Wednesday. He attended all weekend services to sell raffle tickets and recruit volunteers.
"It was a very emotional thing at church," he said. "My reaction is that (Turlo's) just a great guy. He's always been there not only for myself but for other parishioners."
Paluch said he will remember "all the good" that Turlo did, such as starting a popular weekend retreat for parishioners.
"Even if he did make a mistake, and I don't know that he did, he's got a ton of spirituality in him and he's a good man," Paluch said.
The Rev. Harry Bonin, an associate pastor at St. Joseph's in Summit, will fill in at St. Fabian's during Turlo's absence.
Meanwhile, a pastor from a nearby parish will fill in for O'Brien at Queen of Angels during the investigation.
Anyone with information or concerns about Turlo or O'Brien are asked to call the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Administrator at (800) 994-6200.
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