Bishop Defends Views on Sex Scandals with Allegations against Four Priests from His Diocese, Imesch Admits He Has Few Answers

By Sanchez, Robert | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 18, 2002 | Go to article overview

Bishop Defends Views on Sex Scandals with Allegations against Four Priests from His Diocese, Imesch Admits He Has Few Answers


Sanchez, Robert, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Robert Sanchez Daily Herald Staff Writer

At the end of his appearance Wednesday night, Bishop Joseph Imesch didn't dodge questions about the sexual misconduct scandals facing the Catholic church - and particularly in the Joliet Diocese he leads.

For more than an hour Wednesday night, Imesch took questions from a large audience of students and adults at Elmhurst College. Most of the queries dealt with subjects including why Imesch became a priest and which values he deems important.

But, near the time the question-and-answer session was to end, Imesch was on the hot seat about sexual misconduct allegations against priests involving children, including such allegations over the past month against four Joliet Diocese priests. Allegations against one of those priests were made public Wednesday.

The bishop also defended a controversial statement he made to the Daily Herald that some priests who are guilty of sex abuse can be counseled and remain in the ministry.

"I don't believe in zero tolerance," he said.

Imesch said priests who sexually abuse pre-pubescent children should automatically be terminated from their jobs and not reassigned. But he puts those who abuse adolescents and teenagers into a different category.

"The media always says pedophilia," he said Wednesday night. "That's not true. Pedophiles are probably not curable."

On the other hand, he said, "there is very good success rate" in helping people avoid desiring teenagers.

Imesch said he believes priests who abuse still can serve specialized ministries, hospital ministries, but not parish work.

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