Rozanski’s actions in sex abuse case sets path for change in motion (Editorial)

Rozanski Velis Weldon Editorial

Title: Rozanski’s actions in sex abuse case sets path for change in motion (Editorial)


Publisher: MassLive Media

Date: 02JUN2020

“I was raped.”

The claim by a Berkshire County man that he had been repeatedly raped and molested as altar boy by one of the most revered figures in the history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield presented the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski with a most unenviable task.

Rozanski did not turn away. Instead, he turned to a respected retired Superior Court judge, Peter A. Velis, who last week delivered a report bearing uncomfortable news for Rozanski and the entire diocese of Western Massachusetts, from the ranks of its clergy to its devoted parishioners. Rozanski asked for the truth, and he got it.

Velis found “unequivocally credible” the claims made that Bishop Christopher J. Weldon had not only raped and molested this victim but others as well. Weldon led the diocese from 1950 to 1977. His name has long been attached to many places of honor, and his gravesite at Gate of Heaven cemetery is particularly reverential.

The Velis investigation came after allegations were brought to the Diocesan Review Board two years ago by a victim who alleged molestation by the former bishop.  In the report, Velis said diocesan leaders made substantial errors. And the report found “The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.”

Shocking is an accurate word. For nearly four hours, according to the report, the victim bared his soul to Velis, sharing in graphic and disturbing detail how Weldon raped him, in some cases assisted by other priests.

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