Fr. Michael O’Connell parishioners react to new sexual abuse investigation


April 27, 2014 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — Parishioners of a church in Chicago’s Lakeview community are reacting as a new sexual abuse investigation is launched into their pastor, Father Michael O’Connell.

When a south suburban resident claimed to have witnessed lewd acts by O’Connell in the late 90’s, the investigation against him was reopened. And Sunday a self-proclaimed support a group took their message directly to the church.

It was the start of mass at Saint Alphonsus Parish and in front of the church were members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. They told parishioners their Pastor, Father Michael O’Connell was under investigation for alleged sexual abuse and that the church is breaking its own rules by reinstating him.

“This is very reckless and this is against the zero tolerance that the bishops agreed to in 2002,” said Rosemary McHugh.

Mark Basile is a parishioner here and has two children in the school.

“Obviously there safety is my utmost concern, but for groups to come out and kind of villainize Father O’Connell at this point before an investigation is complete I think is unfair,” he said.

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