Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon
Title: Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal
Author: Anne-Gerard Flynn
Publisher: MassLive Media
A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.
Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski toinvestigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.
The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.
Weldon’s 27 years as Springfield’s fourth bishop, starting in 1950, were influential ones in the growth of the diocese. However, they also have emerged as ones during which many allegations of sexual abuse by clergy occurred — as well as the murder of an altar boy in which a former priest, Richard R. Lavigne, remains the only publicly identified suspect.
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