Father Mark Campobello pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two teenage girls in 1999 and 2000. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for his crimes. In both instances, he took advantage of his trusted status in the girls’ lives—in one case, as a close friend of the survivor’s family, and in the other, as an assistant principal and spiritual director at the survivor’s high school. His inappropriate relationships with these girls did not go unnoticed; on more than one occasion, community members reported their concerns about Campobello’s behavior to the Diocese ...
Father John Burke abused at least eight children and covered up sexual abuse by another cleric during the 30-plus years he ministered in the Diocese of Joliet. Yet he suffered not the slightest repercussion for his crimes. Two survivors of Burke’s abuse courageously came forward to share their experiences with the Attorney General’s investigators.
Like many survivors of child sex abuse by clergy, “Albert” was abused when he was most vulnerable and in need of adult protection. As a young child, his father brought him to a Catholic orphanage called Guardian Angel Home in ...
There were a lot of secrets between “Kevin” and Father Theodore Feely, a religious order priest assigned to the Diocese of Rockford. It started with swearing—a sin, taking God’s name in vain. It moved to smoking, even though Kevin was only 13 years old and had asthma. Next came drinking—beer. On his first night ever consuming alcohol, Feely bought Kevin a six pack and told him it was all his because “everyone knew” that Feely drank scotch. Then came the rape.
After a wonderful day at the Wisconsin Dells with Feely, a trusted family friend who spent ...
Like many survivors of clergy abuse, “Carl” kept it secret for years; he only felt comfortable reporting it upon learning of the Attorney General’s investigation. Carl was close with Father Arno Dennerlein while serving as an altar server at Saint Patrick in Joliet. In 1973, Carl was 14 years old and would regularly spend time with Dennerlein in the Saint Patrick rectory. During one visit to Dennerlein’s private sitting room, the priest heard the boy’s confession—a sacrament, or sacred ritual, in which a person discloses “sins.” Carl confessed to...
Father Vincent McCaffrey warned at least one of the children he was sexually abusing to keep it a secret. Those threats worked; the survivor remained silent for years. But when he summoned the courage to come forward in 2004, his experience could not have come as any surprise to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Church officials had known for decades about McCaffrey’s sexual interest in children.
There are many survivors of McCaffrey’s abuse. One died by suicide. All have lived with mental, physical, and emotional struggles. As one survivor testified, “I just have very little faith...
Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms,
unless denoted with *.
Individuals, usually children, who assist clerics during liturgical functions such as mass. Prior to 1994, only men and boys were permitted to be altar servers.*
The title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. It is also given to certain other high-ranking church officials.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. It is governed by an archbishop.
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist its residential bishop.
The highest order of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. The chief priests in their respective dioceses. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. All bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the church.
A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from ordained members of religious orders.
A code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.
Highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope. Cardinals are regarded as the pope's closest advisors. Most cardinals are archbishops.
The chief archivist of a diocese's official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocese’s central administration.
Clergy is a collective term referring to all those ordained—bishops, priests, and deacons—who administer the rites of the church. A cleric is an individual member of the clergy. Only men are permitted to join the clergy.
Confession or Reconciliation
The Catholic sacrament in which one makes a voluntary self-accusation of sins to a qualified priest in private in order to obtain absolution. The priest provides the confessor, also known as the penitent, with a penance to atone for sins committed. A priest who hears confession is forbidden from disclosing the contents of a confession to others under what is called the seal of confession.*
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a diocesan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribunal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors, and notaries.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sets forth policies for each United States archdiocese and diocese to adopt as part of an effort to address allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Charter was formulated at the 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
One of three groups that comprise the clergy, meaning those ordained for ministry. Only men are permitted to become deacons. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if they are planning to become priests.
Priests under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan ministries or released for service outside the diocese.
A territorial division of the Church headed by a bishop.
A priest with faculties to minister in a diocese or archdiocese who was not ordained in that diocese or archdiocese. For example, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Springfield who has been granted faculties to minister by the Archdiocese of Chicago is an extern priest.*
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a Church superior, to perform certain official acts.
Members of the Catholic Church. Derived from Catholic teachings that clergy are like shepherds guiding a flock.*
Laicize or Defrock
The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime, but also can come at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization. When a priest is laicized without his consent for a crime, such as committing child sexual abuse, it is sometimes called defrocking.
Any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader, or music leader at mass.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests.
A member of a religious order of women who has taken solemn or simple vows.
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop. A cleric who has undergone ordination is known as ordained.*
A specific community within a diocese with its own church building and under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation.
Acts performed to atone for committed sins, as directed by a priest in the Catholic sacrament of reconcilliation.*
Residential housing for clergy provided by the Church. A rectory can also contain administrative offices for a parish.*
Professed member of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders.
Religious Order or Order
An institution of men or women, at least some of whose members take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and whose male members are sometimes ordained.*
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.
A cleric who acts in the name of another cleric.*
A priest, auxiliary bishop, or coadjutor bishop who assists the diocesan bishop in the governance of the diocese.
Victims Assistance Coordinator
A diocesan employee who has been designated to coordinate assistance to survivors of sex abuse by clerics.*