Thursday May 20, 2010

Bishop Removes Catholic Pastor for Homosexual Relationship

By Peter J. Smith

JOLIET, Illinois, May 20, 2010 ( – A Catholic pastor has been removed from his duties at St. Isidore Catholic Church, Bloomingdale in the Diocese of Joliet, over revelations that he had engaged in a homosexual relationship with another man a number of times.

Bishop J. Peter Sartain removed Rev. Jerry Simonelli from his duties as pastor ministering to the 9,000 Catholics of St. Isidore’s, the second largest parish in the Diocese of Joliet, after a diocesan investigation revealed that Simonelli had broken his vows of celibacy.

The priest had been under dual investigations by the DuPage County State’s Attorney and the Joliet Diocese after a 21-year-old man accused the Catholic priest of engaging in sexual misconduct with him.

The Daily Herald reported that the DuPage State’s Attorney will not press criminal charges because its findings proved inconclusive.

Bishop Sartain’s executive assistant Doug Delaney spoke with, and said that Simonelli was being removed from all duties as a priest.

“It wasn’t anything to do with kids or anything like that. It was a consenting adult relationship,” said Delaney. “But he broke his vows, he was unfaithful to his vows on more than one occasion.”

According to Delaney, the diocese understands that Simonelli’s homosexual affair occurred before he arrived at St. Isidore’s. Sartain’s order means Simonelli will now have no priestly role or function in Joliet.

“He is on administrative leave,” said Delaney, “which pretty much means you can’t function as a priest, dress as a priest, act as a priest, or identify yourself as a priest.”

Delaney was unable to comment as to whether Simonelli’s administrative leave would be indefinite.

In the interim, Rev. Dennis Miller will serve as interim pastor of St. Isadore’s, until a new pastor is selected. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but the bishop will find another priest to minister to these people as soon as possible,” said Delaney.

The transition should take place by July 1.

Catholic World News editor Phil Lawler told LSN that in all his reporting on the scandal of homosexual priests in Catholic dioceses, the action taken by Bishop Sartain is unique and “a hopeful sign.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of this before,” said Phil Lawler. “There’ve been an awful lot of cases in which we’ve been told that a priest has engaged in consensual sexual activity with another male, and isn’t a problem.

“But it is a problem, and it is good that it is being taken seriously.”


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