Bishop Removes 7 Priests from Ministry

Catholic Post
June 9, 2002

Seven priests of the Diocese of Peoria have been asked by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky to step down from public ministry following allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors.

All but one of the allegations stem from incidents 20 to 40 years ago that were reported to the diocese in recent weeks as the clergy sex abuse scandal mushroomed nationwide. New information on each prompted the action.

The men have been asked not to function as Catholic priests in any public capacity, to no longer wear clerical garb or the Roman collar, and to refrain from using the title Reverend or Father.

The announcement of Bishop Jenky's decision on Thursday, May 30, quickly spread throughout the diocese and even around the country, leading to expressions of shock, sadness, and anger.

In a statement coinciding with the release, Bishop Jenky again apologized "to all victims and their families who have been hurt by any priest or lay person representing our local church." The bishop plans to hold a news conference on Tuesday, June 18, following his return from the gathering of U.S. bishops in Dallas. Steps to restore trust after the sex abuse revelations will be the focus of the bishops' meeting.

The priests removed from public ministry include:

• Edward Bush, 70, who retired in April and was most recently pastor of St. Patrick's Parish in Colona;

• John Anderson, 69, who also retired in April and was the former director of several diocesan offices, including cemeteries and the Propagation of the Faith, as well as director of King's House in Henry and chaplain of St. Joseph's Home in West Peoria;

• Robert Creager, 74, former pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, Ottawa, who retired in 1998;

• Walter Bruening, 73, who retired three years ago after long tenures as pastor of St. Joseph's and St. Mary's parishes in Henry;

• Richard Slavish, 68, retired since April and most recently pastor of St. Anthony's, Matherville, and St. John's, Viola;

• Norman Goodman, 73, former pastor of Holy Family Parish in Lincoln who has been living in Pekin since his retirement in 1997.

• Gregory Plunkett, 57, pastor of St. Catherine's Parish in Aledo and St. Mary's, Keithsburg.

The allegations against Plunkett, first brought to the diocese in early April 2002, involve conduct before he entered the seminary. Plunkett has denied any wrongdoing, but it was determined that he should no longer function in active ministry after additional allegations -- again, prior to his entrance into the seminary -- were received by diocesan officials, who had been conducting an investigation to determine the merits of the claim.
In the case of Norman Goodman, sexual abuse allegations were made against him as recently as the 1990s. Those allegations first came to the diocese's attention in 1997, according to the diocesan statement, and subsequently Goodman was asked to no longer function in public ministry.

Meanwhile, the diocese noted that Jeffrey Windy, former pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, Sheffield, and St. Margaret's, Wyanet, who plead guilty to federal drug charges last month, was removed from all public ministry on the date of his arrest in January.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.