Anthony Joseph Vader
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s records show it first received an allegation of child sex abuse against Father Anthony Vader in late 2002. As it turned out, Vader was a serial predator. Multiple allegations of child sex abuse were subsequently brought to the archdiocese’s attention. Ultimately, its review board found evidence to substantiate at least five claims of abuse.
The archdiocese first concluded there was reasonable cause to suspect that Vader engaged in sexual misconduct with a child in January 2003. He was temporarily withdrawn from all ministry pending a canonical trial and assigned to reside in a monitored setting where he was forbidden to be alone with children. Yet, Vader did not comply with all his restrictions. On several occasions, he was spotted wearing clerical garb against the cardinal’s instruction; he also presided over a public mass and proposed an out-of-state vacation with another priest who was also subject to monitoring (Vader suggested they could monitor each other). As the vicar for priests later reflected, “I sense that if [Vader] is given the least bit of leeway, he has a tendency to extend it far beyond the limits.”
Vader had a particular interest in the Filipino American community. In 2002, the Illinois House of Representatives issued a resolution commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his priesthood and noting he had “been a minister, a friend, an adviser, a confidante and staunch supporter of the Filipino American community for almost” half a century. In early 2004, about a year after being removed from ministry, Vader proposed to take a month-long trip to the Philippines. He was vague about where he was traveling in the country and insisted he would be performing “private” ministry there notwithstanding the cardinal’s instruction. Nevertheless, he was permitted to go.
Around the same time, the archdiocese also confronted Vader about his “frequent presence” at his former parish and mission. Not only did Vader admit to “greeting people outside of the church and signing parish checks,” he also spoke, in the archdiocese’s words, “as if he were still in active ministry at both.” The archdiocese reminded Vader “that his presence and involvement at the aforementioned parishes most likely identifies himself as a priest to the parishioners” in violation of the cardinal’s instruction that he should be removed from active ministry. But Vader insisted “it would be ‘inhumane’ to forbid him from continuing such practices.” Displaying contempt for his parishioners, including the children, Vader also uttered a vile racial slur “on more than one occasion” to reference that his former parish was predominantly Black; he refused to stop using the N-word even when asked to do so by archdiocesan officials. After Vader continued to show up at his former parish despite this reprimand, the archdiocese warned him that “Cardinal George might choose to exercise his right to pursue civil legal action and have Fr. Vader arrested for trespassing.”
In July 2005, the cardinal issued a decree finding with “moral certitude” that Vader was “guilty” of sexually abusing three children. Vader’s faculties were suspended for a period of five years. Over the next few years, the archdiocese continued to receive additional allegations of child sex abuse against Vader; his faculties were never restored. Eventually Vader’s health began to decline, and he passed away in July 2011.