Bernardin Rejects Efforts to Keep Priest in Parish

By Paul Sloan
Chicago Tribune
October 29, 1993

A group of parishioners fighting on behalf of their ousted priest-removed last summer because he allegedly was "at risk of sexual misconduct" with the children of Incarnation Church in Palos Heights-made their plea to the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago on Wednesday.

But Cardinal Joseph Bernardin told them the case was closed.

Bernardin stood by his investigator's decision that Rev. Patrick O'Leary's conduct, which no one has disclosed, was inappropriate and again requested that O'Leary return to his home diocese in Oviedo, Spain.

O'Leary, 33, who was the associate pastor at the church for about a year, has remained in Crestwood and hasn't spoken about his situation. But scores of parishioners have taken up his cause, writing letters on his behalf and circulating a petition that gathered 1,400 signatures.

Signs reading "Bring Back Father Pat" can be seen on lawns in Palos Heights and Crestwood.

About 150 church members held a meeting last month, attended by representatives of the archdiocese, at which many praised O'Leary and criticized the archdiocese. They charged the Catholic Church with ruining an innocent, holy man in its effort to protect children from sexual abuse.


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