Vicar general of Springfield diocese won’t accept reappointment, says he was ‘unfairly’ portrayed in Weldon report

Springfield Republican via MassLive

August 3, 2020

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

Fallout continues in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as the diocesan vicar general, the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, will not seek reappointment, saying he was “unfairly and unfavorably portrayed” in the recent report into allegations of sexual abuse by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

Connelly’s announcement coincides with letters having circulated in the religious community in which retired priest James Scahill, an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church, called for the removal of the vicar based on the results of the report by retired Judge Peter A. Velis. The vicar is second only to the bishop in the diocesan hierarchy.

In the report, made public on June 24, Velis found allegations by a former altar boy against Weldon were “unequivocally credible.” The report was also critical of the diocese’s handling of the case prior to the call by the current bishop, the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, for the independent investigation last summer.

“I am calling for the immediate removal and replacement of Connelly as vicar general and rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral,” Scahill said when asked about his letter and Connelly’s reaction to it. “Christopher Connelly is doing what I am very opposed to – that is employing smoke and mirrors (and) dodging the truth.”

Connelly, meanwhile, said his appointment as vicar ceased on June 10 as a result of Rozanski being named archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Louis, where he will move later this month. “Before Father Scahill’s request, I had already indicated to our bishop that when a new bishop moves in, I would not accept reappointment as vicar general, that I had done it,” Connelly said.

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