View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Traditionalist priest charged

80-year-old Father John Steger of the Diocese of Rochester has been charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

Father Steger is the founding pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church in my town of Gates.

He’s charged with two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

In a statement, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester said Father Steger has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. He will not be allowed to engage in any public ministry.

The diocese says it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Father Steger was ordained in 1951. He’s been pastor at St. Jude since 1968. He previously served at St. Theodore Church (my church), St. Alphonsus Church in Auburn, and St. Joseph Church in Wayland.

According to a news broadcast, the alleged abuse involved inappropriate contact with the girl, who had come to clean the rectory. The incidents took place this year.

Father Steger, by the way, is one of the Diocese of Rochester’s arch-conservative priests. His parish has been a center of Marian and pro-life activities, and traditional devotions and services (I've attended a few).

He has a reputation of being a hard-line, by-the-book, old-style kind of priest. In his parish – and there was never any doubt it was HIS parish – his word was law.

He has been at odds with the diocese and some of his fellow priests at times because of his independent ways and his bluntness.

I have heard that he has not been well, and that there have been some questions about his mental state in recent years. If these reports are true, then they may provide some mitigating circumstances.

Still, if these abuse charges are true, it’s a real blow to the traditionalists here.

This whole business leaves me sad. Pray for him, the girl and her family, his parish, and this diocese.


Blogger Don said...

Sad story. There are victims all around.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Sad story indeed. He was maybe that kind of person who puts too much pressure on oneself.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Moneybags said...

I sure hope this isn't true. We really need Traditional priests.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was a wonderful man and a priest that one could be very proud to know. These allegations are totally unfounded and do not reflect the man that I knew to be a role model for all.

3:27 PM  

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