History of the Diocese
Established in 1887, the Diocese of Belleville spans 11,678 square miles and 28 counties in southern Illinois. The southernmost diocese in Illinois, its territory touches the eastern, western, and southern borders of the state. The diocese’s northern edge boarders the Diocese of Springfield. The diocese’s cathedral, the Cathedral of Saint Peter, is located in Belleville.
The total population of the geographic region covered by the Diocese of Belleville is approximately 860,000. Of that number, about 70,000 are Catholic, meaning that Catholics make up approximately 8 percent of the total population within the diocese. To serve a Catholic population spread over such a sizable area, the diocese has 101 Catholic parishes and is home to 98 diocesan priests, 13 priests from other dioceses, and 36 priests associated with religious orders. Additionally, the diocese has 36 permanent deacons and 124 religious sisters. The diocese has had nine bishops throughout its history, the first being Bishop John Janssen, who served from 1888 to 1913. Bishop Henry J. Althoff served from 1914 to 1947; Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste from 1948 to 1976; Bishop William M. Cosgrove from 1976 to 1981; Bishop John N. Wurm from 1981 to 1984; Bishop James P. Keleher from 1984 to 1993, Bishop Wilton Gregory from 1994 to 2005; Bishop Edward K. Braxton from 2005 to 2020; and Bishop Michael McGovern (the current bishop) began his tenure in 2020.
The Diocese's History of Handling Claims of Child Sex Abuse by ClericsIn a February 13, 2023 article “A priest scandal rocked the Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed?” the Belleville News-Democrat outlines how “18 clergy [were] removed...
Narrative Accounts of Child Sex Abuse
The following section contains explicit narrative accounts of child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics while ministering in the Diocese of Belleville. Where the narrative was written in consultation with a survivor, and based upon their experience, it is published with the survivor’s express permission. In those instances, unless otherwise noted pseudonyms are used to protect survivor identities.READ NARRATIVE ACCOUNTS >
Information Relating to Child Sex Abusers in the Diocese
The following section contains specific information regarding substantiated child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics while ministering in the Diocese of Belleville. This information includes:
- Name/Ordination Year
- Illinois Assignments
- Reported Survivors
- Date/Location of Reported Abuse
- Diocese Claim of First Report
- Placed on Catholic Church Public Lists