Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the reinstatement of Father Lawrence Sullivan to active ministry

Archdiocese of Chicago IL

May 14, 2021

By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Dear Members of the Christ the King Parish and School communities,

On April 21, 2021, I informed you of an allegation of sexual assault against your Pastor, Father Lawrence Sullivan dating from 1984 when he was eighteen years old.  In keeping with our procedures, Father Sullivan was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation could be completed.  This has been a difficult time for your parish and school communities and all involved. Thank you for your patience with this process.

A thorough review of this matter by the Archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review and an outside investigator, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the accuser, concludes that the accusation against him, which was alleged to have occurred prior to his entering the seminary, cannot be substantiated.  Therefore, I am reinstating Father Sullivan as your Pastor effective immediately.

Father Sullivan has fully cooperated with the investigation during these weeks.  He has steadfastly reaffirmed the imperative for us as a Church to keep the protection and safety of our children as our priority.

As I informed Father Sullivan of my decision to re-instate him as your Pastor, he again stated that we must remain vigilant in protecting our children, and spare no effort to bring healing to victim survivors.  He fully embraces our longstanding policies and practices on the conduct of all church personnel.

Let me take this occasion to remind our parishioners and the public that:

  1. since 1992, we have enforced safe environment protocols and a code of conduct for all who work with minors and we have reached out to victims with pastoral and personal attention;
  2. since 2002 we have reported all allegations to the civil authorities and in that year we reported all historical allegations to these authorities;
  3. beginning in 2006, we have publicly listed the names of diocesan priests who have substantiated allegations of abuse of minors against them and in 2014 we published more than 20,000 pages of information on these cases;
  4. in accord with our zero tolerance policy, no priest with even one substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor remains in ministry.

It is important to note that our policies also call us to do everything possible to restore the good name of priests when the process has determined allegations cannot be substantiated. This, too, is a matter of justice.  Therefore, out of regard for Father Sullivan and all our priests, I resolve to see his good name restored.  Toward that goal, I will share this letter with pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago, asking them to provide it to their parishioners.  This letter will also be sent to all employees of the Archdiocese and the media and posted on our archdiocesan website.

Healing now must be the pathway forward for all of us.  Father Sullivan shares this sentiment and you can honor him by doing everything to make sure that a spirit of reconciliation and unity prevails as you move ahead. In this way, the mission of Jesus can flourish.  That is my prayer for you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Archbishop of Chicago