Priest Who Fathered Son Is Suspended, and under Inquiry

By Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times
October 17, 2009

[A Mother, a Sick Son and His Father, the Priest]

A Franciscan priest who fathered a child with a woman who had come to him for marriage counseling was suspended from his parish duties by his Roman Catholic bishop on Friday while church officials investigate whether he also had a sexual relationship with a minor.

Bishop Peter Christensen, who leads the diocese of Superior, Wis., said in a telephone interview that he had summoned the priest, the Rev. Henry Willenborg, to his office after reading a front-page article in The New York Times on Friday.

The bishop said he had been warned by Father Willenborg’s superiors that The Times would report that Father Willenborg had fathered a son. But he said he decided to suspend the priest after reading accusations in the article that the priest encouraged the woman to have an abortion the first time she became pregnant by him, and had sex with another woman who was young enough to be in high school.


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