Priest Accused of Abuse Is Put on Restricted Duty

By Curtis Lawrence
Chicago Sun-Times
November 11, 2002

A 75-year-old retired priest who was living at St. John Vianney parish in Northlake until recently has been withdrawn from all pastoral duties by an Archdiocese of Chicago review board investigating charges of sexual misconduct with a pre-teen boy.

The charges against the Rev. Joseph Thomas date back more than 15 years, when he was pastor at St. Margaret Mary parish in Rogers Park, according to archdiocese officials. In a letter to St. John Vianney parishioners, Auxiliary Bishop Thad Jakubowski said the charges, which Thomas denies, have been reported to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Thomas was pastor at St. Margaret Mary from 1975 to 1987 before leaving to become the associate pastor at St. John Vianney. He retired from active duties in 1997 but had been living at the St. John Vianney rectory and assisting with sacraments and mass, said Mary McDonough, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

In the first stage of its review, the archdiocese's Fitness Review Board concluded there was "reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of a minor had occurred," according to Jakubowski's letter. The board recommended to Cardinal Francis George that Thomas be withdrawn from all ministry; George accepted the recommendation.

Pending a second-stage review, Thomas has been moved to a "monitored and restricted" setting where he will not be allowed to be alone with minors, according to Jakubowski's letter to St. John Vianney members. A similar letter was read to St. Margaret Mary members.

The allegation against Thomas was the first accusation against him received by the archdiocese, officials said.

Jakubowski asked St. John Vianney members to pray for Thomas, the person who made the charges and for the U.S. bishops who will meet in Washington, D.C., this week to finalize new policies in response to the national sex-abuse scandal.


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