St. Bernadette Priest Steps down Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations
By Lorraine Swanson
September 24, 2012
Rev. Gary M. Miller, the senior pastor at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Evergreen Park, has stepped down from his duties as pastor amid sexual misconduct allegations with minor over 30 years ago.
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced on its website that Miller resigned as of Sunday, Sept. 23, and has been removed of all ministerial duties.
The allegation was made to the Archdiocese of Chicago on June 30, 2012, that Miller had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor while assigned to St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn.
According to Archdiocese officials, the allegation was immediatley reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Miller was asked to withdraw from the ministry after an Archdiocese Independent Review Board determined there was reasonable cause to suspect that the sexual abuse of a minor occurred, Archdiocese officials said.
Francis Cardinal George has accepted the review board’s determination and recommendation. Miller is said to be residing in a private setting away from the parish, Archdiocese officials said.
Miller has also agreed to participate in the Prayer and Penance Program administered by the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth.
Notification of Miller’s case has been sent to the Vatican in accordance with canon law and policies of the U.S. Conference of Bishops. The Archdiocese is awaiting further instruction from Vatican for Miller’s possible permanent removal from the ministry.
Any parishes where Miller previously served are also being notified so that other possible victims of abuse may step forward, Archdiocese officials said.
“Sexual abuse of children is a grave sin and a crime,” the Archdiocese press statement read. “The Archdiocese of Chicago reports every allegation to the civil authorities and cooperates with them. The Archdiocese continues to reach out and work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse.”
Miller served as pastor of St. Bernadette since 2001. His name, contact info and “Father Gary’s Musings” are still listed on the parish’s website.
A staff person who answered the phone at St. Bernadette's said all news media inquiries were being directed to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The priest has not yet been charged with wrongdoing, according the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Information about reporting allegations of sexual abuse by Archdiocesan clergy, deacons or lay persons, no matter when the abuse occurred, can be found on the Archdiocesan website, or by calling:
Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review, 312-534-5205 or 1-800-994-6200
Office of Assistance Ministry, 312-534-8267 or toll-free at 866-517-4528
Cardinal George is expected to appoint a new pastor for St. Bernadette before Oct. 1.