CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A longtime Chicago-area priest was removed from his Lake View church on Saturday after being accused of sexually abusing a minor nearly 40 years ago while serving at a south suburban parish.
Cardinal Blase Cupich asked the Rev. Patrick Lee, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, to “step aside” as authorities investigate the claim made against him this week, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The alleged abuse happened in 1979 while Lee was assigned to St. Christopher Parish in Midlothian, Cupich said in the statement.
Church leaders have forwarded the complaint to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, Cupich said.
Lee will live away from the parish while the allegation is investigated, Cupich said. Lee has served several roles with the archdiocese in the Chicago area since 1976, including at:
- St. Christopher Parish in Midlothian as associate pastor from May 12, 1976 to June 30, 1979;
- St. Matthias Parish, Chicago as associate pastor from May 23, 1979 to December 7, 1983;
- Quigley Preparatory Seminary (North) as faculty member from July 1, 1979 to Dec. 31, 1986;
- St. Giles Parish in Oak Park as associate pastor from Dec. 7, 1983 to Dec. 30, 1986;
- Immaculate Conception Parish, North Park Avenue as associated pastor and pastor from June 15, 1986 to July 1, 2013;
- St. Joseph Parish, N. Orleans Street, as pastor, July 1, 2001 to July 1, 2013;
- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish as pastor from July 1, 2013 to present.
The person making the allegation was offered services of the archdiocese ‘s Victim Assistance Ministry, Cupich said. The current administrator of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Father Larry Lisowski, will take over Lee’s duties as pastor.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reported in December that the Catholic church had dramatically underreported the number of priests with sexual misconduct allegations. Her office identified 500 clergy members in Illinois with sex allegation that dated back decades.
Following Madigan’s report, the church released names of several former priests and deacons, some now dead, who had substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct made against them.