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Bishop responds to assertions

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Having been away from Peoria for a week, I was astonished and horrified to read upon my return home, the Jan. 27 letter from Edward Fitzpatrick which asserts that I was somehow a part of a cover-up regarding the conduct of James Burtchaell. I would like to say for the record that in the years when I served as Rector of Dillon Hall (1975 thru the early 1980’s), I never had any knowledge of sexual misconduct on the part of Burtchaell. If I had, I would have immediately reported this to my superiors. During that era, Burtchaell was not only the Provost, but he was also a widely admired preacher, teacher and author. I like most others at Notre Dame would never have imagined him to be capable of misusing his ministry. I should also like to say that while we were both religious confreres, we were not close friends. Even the most clueless freshmen at Dillon Hall would have rather quickly noticed that there was persistent tension between Burtchaell and myself regarding all kinds of dorm issues, especially discipline. It was only some years later during my tenure as Religious Superior that I became aware of allegations being made against Burtchaell. I was a part of both the investigation and the subsequent process of his removal from public ministry.

Even for a publication as notoriously without standards as the Notre Dame Observer, printing unsubstantiated and libelous charges against someone’s good name is simply unconscionable. Your complete lack of professional judgment has now enabled some special interest groups here in Central Illinois to gleefully announce: “Bishop Jenky of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria has a history of covering up sexual abuse.” You have done me a serious injustice that in the current climate will negatively effect my service as a bishop.

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.Bishop of PeoriaFeb. 2