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Survivor Narratives

Louis P. Rogge

At least two children were sexually abused in the Diocese of Joliet because Bishop Joseph Imesch opened the church’s doors to a convicted abuser—a member of the Carmelite religious order named Father Louis Rogge. In 1974, Rogge pleaded guilty to child molestation in Georgia. He was sentenced to six years’ probation, of which he served just two before returning to unrestricted ministry in the church. The Carmelites would later point to “the standards and policies of that day” as an excuse for this decision.

At least two children were sexually abused in the Diocese of Joliet because Bishop Joseph Imesch opened the church’s doors to a convicted abuser—a member of the Carmelite religious order named Father Louis Rogge.

Apparently operating under those same “standards and policies,” Bishop Imesch welcomed Rogge to the diocese in late 1992—authorizing him to engage in public ministry without taking any precautions to protect children. The bishop said he was “happy” to have Rogge. That sentiment wasn’t universal, though; the Archdiocese of Chicago rejected Rogge’s application for faculties around the same time.

In June 2002, 28 years after Rogge pleaded guilty to child molestation, the Carmelites claimed only to have just discovered evidence of his conviction during a review of their files—an incredible assertion given Rogge was an ordained Carmelite at the time he pleaded guilty. The Carmelite provincial asked Bishop Imesch to “revoke [Rogge’s] faculties to function as a priest in the Diocese of Joliet” but did not disclose the reason why. There is no evidence Bishop Imesch acceded to the Carmelites’ request to remove Rogge from public ministry.

In September 2005, a father told the diocese that Rogge had sexually abused his two sons when they were children in 1996 and 1999. The diocese shared this report with the Carmelites and the Will County state’s attorney. Rogge confessed to sexually abusing the boys in their bedrooms in Bolingbrook. In December 2006, the state’s attorney charged Rogge with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse based on their investigation of the father and sons’ allegations. In April 2007, Rogge pleaded guilty to two of these counts. He died while awaiting sentencing for these crimes.

The Diocese of Joliet sought to wash its hands of Rogge’s sexual abuse. It issued a statement in December 2006 asserting that, while “[n]obody likes to see somebody else injured,” the diocese did not have “any dealings with Father Rogge.” That is false; Rogge, of course, had been granted faculties to minister in the diocese by Bishop Imesch. And despite Rogge’s confession, the diocese refused to add Rogge to its public list for more than 15 years. The diocese still did not add Rogge to its list when the Attorney General’s investigators informed it in January 2020 that he was on the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s list of priests with credible allegations of child abuse. Only after the Carmelites disclosed Rogge as credibly accused of child sex abuse in November 2020 did the diocese follow suit in February 2021. In the interim, for all practical purposes, a reasonable person might well have assumed Rogge remained in good standing with the diocese notwithstanding his multiple crimes against children.

See details for Louis P. (Meinrad) Rogge

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Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms, unless denoted with *.

Altar server
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.
Auxiliary Bishop
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.
Canon Law

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.
Dallas Charter
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.
Diocesan Priest
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.
Extern Priest
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.*
Religious Cleric
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.*
Vicar general
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.*