Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Accused, suspended priest worked in Chicago

Accused, suspended priest worked in Chicago
October 6, 2009 5:47 PM | No Comments
The priest accused of abuse in a lawsuit struck down last month by the Illinois Supreme Court gave retreats in Chicago in the 1970s, according to internal church documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Kenneth Roberts, a suspended priest who served in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Archdiocese of Dallas, came to Chicago in October 1973 with permission from the late Cardinal John Cody to conduct a two-day retreat, according to letters between church officials.

But he stayed through early November apparently to promote his autobiography "Playboy to Priest," according to the documents.

In a letter to the then-vice-chancellor of the St. Louis Archdiocese, Cody expressed concern that Roberts was listed in the Catholic Directory as "absent on leave" and overstayed his welcome in Chicago.

"Evidently he has a good publicity setup, but I would like to suggest to this 'Playboy Priest' that faculties, given to him for a particular occasion, do not mean that he can stay here forever," Cody wrote. "There is danger that you might lose his services in St. Louis!!! I am always fearful of these 'wandering minstrels.'"

Roberts returned twice in 1977 to conduct retreats for religious women, according to the records. In a letter to his own bishop, Roberts admitted to spending time in Chicago.

"I have worked in that area quite a bit after obtaining faculties but one of the Sisters said that she thought it might be a good idea to obtain them again since they have been quite strict in the diocese late," he wrote.

In September, the Illinois Supreme Court tried to correct misconceptions about an amendment to the state's statute of limitations in 2003, which gave accusers five years instead of two to file civil suits after they realized they were abused.

The ruling stemmed from allegations against Roberts that he abused a student at St. Mary's Parochial School in Belleville in 1984 when Roberts was a guest lecturer on several topics, including sex education.

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