June 24, 2020.
By Larry Parnass and Caroline White
The Springfield Diocese sought to protect the reputation of the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, a retired judge says, despite a former altar boy’s “unequivocally credible” complaint that the bishop sexually molested him repeatedly in the early 1960s, in group assaults joined by other clergy.
Now, Weldon’s name and likeness will be purged from Catholic church venues — and his remains moved from a place of honor.
Judge Peter A. Velis said in a report made public Wednesday that a Chicopee man’s allegations of repeated sexual assaults by the bishop are believable.
Velis was hired by the diocese last July to prepare “an independent and outside” probe, with help from a chief investigator, Dennis O’Connor.
Velis said he reached that conclusion about the bishop’s “evil deeds,” even as he strove to consider that Weldon isn’t alive to defend himself. The bishop died in 1982, after serving the diocese, including Berkshire County, from 1950 to 1977.
“I conducted the process in the light most favorable to him,” Velis said of Weldon. “However … I still reached an informed and indisputable conclusion.”
In an appearance Wednesday alongside the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, Velis affirmed the outcome of his investigation, which he acknowledged will dishearten Catholics throughout the region.
“The finding I made I stand behind as an indisputable truth,” he said.
Rozanski said he accepted the report’s conclusions and called for mentions of Weldon to be removed from view.
Rozanski directed not only that Weldon’s name be struck from a Springfield rehabilitation hospital, but that his remains in a diocesan cemetery be moved from a place of honor and “marked with a simple gravestone.”
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