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Abuse allegations against former Sprin­gfield Bishop Christ­opher Weldon ‘unequi­vocally credible,’ investigation finds

Updated Jun 24, 10­:18 PM; Posted Jun 24, 2:00 PM

The Most Rev. Chri­stopher J. Weldon, seen here on July 24, 1970, was bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfie­ld from 1950 until 1977.The Republican file photo

By​ Anne-Gerard Flynn |

SPRINGFIELD — A re­tired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegati­ons against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Dioc­ese of Springfield for more than 25 year­s, found the accusat­ions to be “unequivo­cally credible.”

Meanwhile, mandato­ry reporters in the diocese who first he­ard the alleged vict­im’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive su­mmary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Vel­is, who was hired a year ago to investig­ate the matter.

Velis’ report conc­luded “the allegatio­ns of the Complainant of sexual molestat­ion committed upon him by Bishop Christo­pher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ th­at included anal rap­e, indecent assault and battery and inte­ntional infliction of emotional distre­ss are unequivocally credible. The alleg­ations that were inv­estigated and examin­ed are not dubious,​ vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the prod­uct of any chimerical conception, fabric­ation or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive be­havior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.”

In an executive su­mmary, Velis critici­zed the diocesan rev­iew board that heard the alleged victim’s account in June 20­18.

“It was clear in my examination that the process included an inexplicable modi­fication and manipul­ation of the reports received by and act­ed on by the Diocesan Review Board,” Vel­is wrote. “Additiona­lly the complaint pr­ocess was compromised in that mandatory reporters failed in their duties to re­port the allegations to prosecutorial au­thorities.”

Velis said that in “evaluating the act­ions of those involv­ed in the Weldon ass­essment,” he found a “reluctance to ferv­ently pursue an eval­uation of allegations against [Weldon] due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious com­munity.”

Weldon died in 198­2.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced last July that Velis, who​ retired​ as a Hampden Super­ior Court judge in 2012,​ had been hired​ to investigate the allegations. Rozanski described Velis as a “truly objective person who will inves­tigate the Bishop We­ldon matter thorough­ly, review how this situation has been handled by the dioces­e, and help identify opportunities for improvement in how the diocese handles these matters.”

The diocese descri­bed his hiring as “b­oth warranted and the most prudent course of action” after what it called a “pub­lic disagreement” be­tween the alleged vi­ctim and the diocesan review board.

Three months after the victim met with the board, he recei­ved a letter thanking him “for sharing details of your abuse as detailed in narr­ative relating to Bi­shop Christopher Wel­don, Rev. Edward Aut­hier and Rev. Claren­ce Forand.” The lett­er said the bishop would be advised th­at the board “finds your testimony compe­lling and credible.”

After the Berkshire Eagle published a story last spring ab­out the allegations against Weldon and the other two priests — and​ questioned​ whether their names would be added to the diocese’s list of​ credibly accused cle­rgy, as the alleged victim had expected — the review board’s chairman, John M. Ha­le,​ released​ a statement through the diocese, sayin­g, “There was no fin­ding against Bishop Weldon as the indivi­dual also indicated that the former Bish­op never abused them­.”

The alleged surviv­or, whose testimony before the board was witnessed by three individuals who acco­mpanied him and said he did identify Wel­don as an alleged ab­user, then requested a meeting with Roza­nski, where he reite­rated the allegation­s.

After that​ meeting​ in June 2019, Roza­nski filed a report on the allegations against Weldon with the Hampden County di­strict attorney’s of­fice.
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Retired judge Peter A. Velis speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 24, 2020 about his inves­tigation into allega­tions against former Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldo­n.Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican

People who make cl­aims of clerical sex­ual abuse have those claims looked into by a diocesan invest­igator, who reports to the bishop and the diocesan review bo­ard. They may also give testimony before the board, as may the clergy member bei­ng accused. If the bishop accepts the board’s finding that an allegation is cr­edible, the alleged victim may seek fina­ncial compensation from the diocese — th­ough any such settle­ment is not an admis­sion of guilt by the party involved.

The alleged victim who claimed abuse by Weldon did not have his claims of alle­ged abuse by the oth­er two deceased prie­sts disputed by the board. After his mee­ting with Rozanski, he stated his “impre­ssion was that the bishop ‘got it.’”

It is not clear wh­ether he knew his al­legation against Wel­don would be investi­gated further. The appointment of Velis as investigator remo­ved the diocese from having to issue any finding on the alle­gation against Weldo­n, though Velis​ had no powers​ to subpoena.

Earlier this year, Rozanski formed a task force headed by retired Berkshire Su­perior Court Judge Daniel Ford to review recommendations from Velis’ report.

Weldon’s 27 years as Springfield’s fou­rth bishop, starting in 1950, were​ influential​ in the growth of the diocese. However, they also have​ emerged​ as years when many allegations of sexu­al abuse by clergy occurred — as well as the murder of an al­tar boy in which a former priest, Richard R. Lavigne, remains the only publicly identified suspect.

Weldon has been ac­cused of interfering with investigations into that murder. There have been​ reports​ that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to Weldon — who also had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files relat­ed to pedophile prie­sts over the years.

Diocesan lawyers​ have denied​ any such documents were destroyed.

Weldon, who served as bishop from 1950 through 1977 and di­ed in 1982, is the second Springfield bi­shop to be accused of sexual misconduct.

The late Thomas Du­pre resigned as Spri­ngfield bishop in Fe­bruary 2004, a day after The Republican​ confronted​ him with allegatio­ns that he had abused two young men.

A grand jury inves­tigation indicted Du­pre on child sexual assault charges in September 2004, but not on obstruction of justice and conspir­acy charges. He was removed from public ministry by the Vati­can in 2004. He was never charged with two counts of child rape because then-Hampden County Distr­ict Attorney William Bennett​ said they fell out­side the statute of limitations. Dupre died in 2016.

PAT SAYS

This deceased priest / bishop was a using young people in the 40s, 50s and beyond.

He was abusing in consort with other priests.

It is most likely that his abuse was reported but like so many he was just moved on to another parish.

And, in spite of the abuse he was made a bishop.

It’s the same old story, over and over again.

Even when a priest or bishop is dead it is important that the matter is recorded and investigated.

The living victims need to be listened to, believed and helped in anyway needed.

62 replies on “Abuse allegations against former Sprin­gfield Bishop Christ­opher Weldon ‘unequi­vocally credible,’ investigation finds”

Isn’t it marvellous how we in the 21st century have wonderful insights into the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s andv60’s and 70’s…Abuse is abuse is abuse in anywhere but I wonder if Patsy would have been a whistle blower back in those awful times. I doubt it. NO. We’re all smart in 2020.

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Any other, secular organisation with as much sexual-abuse and criminal baggage as the Catholic Church would have been shamed into folding long before now. But it is the massive self-delusion and self-conceit that this organisation is of God that enables these hierarchs, without conscience and without the capacity for shame, to continue peddling to the world the adulterous lie that they are a moral authority for the Almighty himself, and that they have something to say and that they demand its supposed gravitas be taken seriously. If it weren’t such a mad, Alice in Wonderland pantomime, these clerical creeps would have been forced to leave the world stage by relentless public pressure. And this pressure is the only thing that has dragged these men to where they are now in terms of limited self-awarness on the need for canonical reform and for child protection.
Who, fifty years ago, would ever have thought that innocent children would need to be protected from ‘men of God’. An incredible paradox at the time. The world truly is in a state of chassis. But as Chesterton remarked, paradox is just truth standing on its head.
The best thing the Catholic Church can do now is just disappear. Society does not need it, does not want it, and will no longer tolerate the criminal arrogance of its clergy.
Failing this, it would be preferable if its hierarchs, slow learners at the best of times, acknowledged what the rest of the world already recognises: that their claim to be a moral voice in the world is an absolute joke. And that it is exceedingly far from funny.

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Anon@11:25.
I agree with your sentiments about the RCC, and would go further.
I believe the whole of religion is a duplicitous shibboleth foisted on dependent children.They unquestionably assimilate parental and communal belief systems. These then become so psychologically and emotionally personally embedded, and reinforced by communal practices of observances linked to rites of passage, that even when those children pass into independence of thought and action, they maintain believing dependence in the whole religious facade. They then go on to replicate the deception in their own progeny. I shake my head at local papers full of First Holy Communion pictures of smiling children invariably with the Roman collar clad priest in their midst. More “lambs to the slaughter”!

I am certain that a large proportion of “clergy” of all religions do not believe half their mumbo jumbo deluded utterances. How else to explain their such widespread abusive behaviour ?
MMM

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10 58: MMM has surfaced to say what he has expressed verbatim a thousand times. He has no ither narrative than his ad nauseam repetitive – “I believe the whole of religion is a duplicitous shibboleth foisted on dependent children….” The rest is predictable. MMM – I chose faith/religious belief late in my life and strange as it may seem it was listening to nihilists and atheists like you that turned my path around. You certainly do not speak for many older clergy like me in your assumptions that we are ‘faithless. What arrogance and ignorance!!

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@11:25
Thank you for a great comment which has predictably elicited a wish that you shut up from one of the said clerical creeps.
@10:21
When your ilk show the slightest indication that you have actually ‘got it’ then we will all think about stopping saying these things.

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+Pat, I think this sounds familiar to me.
Now I know why my report was messed up.
We had an auxiliary Bishop pass away not too long ago, his obituary makes for interesting reading. It mentions he kept lists of all the names and dates of the students children who were born and would say, when meeting at reunions, “Do you remember thingy?.”
It was a bizare obituary some have said.

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He looks kike a liberal, the ways he’s dressed. Definitely no lace vestments. He liberated himself from his pre-Vatican II formation, when all that boring stuff about sin was thrown in the bin.

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I know this is your blog, + Pat, and you are the editor, but today’s offering is pretty uninspiring, and the sort of things we know already, and have seen too often with other instances of abusing priests and bishops, and coverup bishops. There’s one in the news at the moment of some diocese in Poland where the Pope has removed the bishop. Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.

We know bishops and the Church find themselves out of step with so much of the world, including the laity in the Church, and so often are fighting rearguard actions in support of teaching and thinking that simply is not sustainable anymore. They find themselves stuck and incapable of development and new ideas. Recently in the USA the Catholic bishops found themselves opposing a Supreme Court judgement that dealt with discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace, claiming that it was perfectly acceptable for them to continue sacking gay Catholic employees when they wanted, whilst parroting the tired mantra about respecting all individuals for their inherent dignity. Not when it comes to sexuality, however !

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/can-us-bishops-support-discrimination-against-lgbt-be-sustained

I’m sure there will still be ways that the Catholic Church will be able to continue discriminating against certain groups of people in spite of judgements like this – mostly on the grounds that they have some kind of spurious exemption from the law as a religious organisation or that they do not take public funding. More like any excuse to carry on acting on a discredited and vindictive set of teachings that targets people of difference, and to hell with their inherent dignity a children of God ! I really don’t see how people like these bishops are able to mouth these words with any sincerity. It smacks of totalitarian, authoritarian, fascist control of a system that is fundamentally wrong. Remember, when one group is treated like this it is only a simple step for other groups and individuals to be treated like this by the Church, so it should be of interest to us all.

I have long since begun to think for myself and to sift through the monolithic teaching of the Church, and discarded that which is clearly unsustainable, invented, mechanistic, illogical, irrational, unjust, and just plain mad. Some of the nonsense they expect us to believe is just….well unbelievable. What I do care about more is looking for justice and compassion in what the Church says and does and where I find that I will support it. But where I see ingrained, dysfunctional, nasty, vindictive and just dolt-headed stupidness, then I detach myself.

By the way, and as an indication of the warped priorities of the Church, or their ingrained prejudices, it took only 2 hours for Archbishop Gomez of LA and the president of the bishops’ conference int the USA to deliver his riposte to the supreme court judgement; it took him 5 days to say anything about the murder of George Floyd and the reaction to that in BLM. If there is a whiff of sex, sexuality, difference, the genitals, the loins or any other salacious matter, then he will be all over it in short order. If it has to do with a substantial issue of justice, then it can wait, apparently. I think that says a lot about the dysfunctional prism through which Catholic bishops view the world, people and issues.

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I wonder what the situation with LGBTQ+ Church employees is in Ireland and the UK ? Is it still possible for Catholic schools to sack an employee for being LGBTQ+ or being in a same sex relationship ? I think it is proving more difficult for them to get rid of someone just on grounds of sexuality, especially if it is a state funded school. If they take public state money, then they should have to respect the law of the land, which bans discrimination on any grounds to LGBTQ+ people. I’m sure bishops and VGs will have all sorts of ways of finding reasons to get rid of someone if they want to, however, just so that it slips under the law. And still they will be teaching their pupils about Catholic social justice – which extents just so far as they want it to, but certainly not to people who have some kind of difference of sexuality or lifestyle.

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11.37am People in same sex relationships should not be teaching in Catholic schools full stop. They know full well that this is incompatible with Church teaching. I think they just want to do it to be provocative and prove a point. Let them go teach in a non faith based school as there are plenty of them available.

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Mmmm, @1137 ? And how do you get around the fact that most faith based schools are funded by the state and the state does not allow for discrimination on grounds of sexuality or lifestyle, except where that is against the law ? I think what you will find is that most faith based institutions are increasingly finding it difficult to argue that they are exempt from the law of the land, from which they receive funding, and are increasingly being challenged where they do act as if exempt. Perhaps they should stop receiving state funding, then they can do what they like, although that increasingly is going to be difficult as times goes on and the state insists that the law of the land is implemented and that there are no exceptions, even for religious organisations. Isn’t it an irony that the secular state has to be the upholder of dignity, respect, justice, compassion – while the Church just cherry picks and chooses what it fancies, whom it likes, and against whom it will act with prejudice and discrimination / And, invariably, the criteria for that on the part of the Church is sex ! Obsessive compulsive, if you ask me ! Not much integrity in that as far as the Church is concerned, I would have thought. I know which institution I would put my trust in.

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11.50, and priests, including bishops and popes, should not have been in positions of power that enabled them to fire LGBT staff when these clerics were either abusing children or protecting the abusers under the Pontifical Secret. And yet they not only remained in such positions, but were thought very highly of and rewarded. Who’s an example? Yes! Bernard Cardinal Law.
Your post is entirely hypocritical.

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Go and apply for a teaching position in a UK Islamic school – let’s see how far you get? Let’s see how long it takes you to experience discrimination there. Let’s not make your argument only one sided here.

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Thank you @ 11:20 for a very balanced wise comment.

And @ 11:25 who refers to my “ad nauseam narrative “:
Could you please explain why so many clerics of the RCC who profess celibacy have been revealed as serial sexual predators?
You must know this duplicity extends to even the highest echelons of your church’s hierarchy, not only in their own abusive actions, but particularly with respect to their cover up collusion with abuse.
I await your learned faith inspired response.
MMM

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MMM, why have so many social workers been negligent, not to say abusive, eg Kincora, and Baby “P”?

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3.38, an evasion, brought on by desperation, shame, and guilt.

Truth is, Father, you are embarrassed by the other poster’s point and question…because you know he has a point. And you know you cannot answer it satisfactorily.

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1.01: MMM – In reply to your query about the number of clergy who are revealed as sexual deviants. I wish I could give you a complete and thorough answer. I am appalled at the statistics. In my childhood and teenage years I have recollection of just one priest who was very strict and a little weird. Ssdly he was accused of sexual abuse but I nor any member of my family ever experienced abuse from any cleric. Mostly we had good priests who seemed very committed to their work and community. Caring, approachable men, prayerful too but very human. A few over the years had their own personal traits that made the awkward but not abusive. When I first witnessed sexual abuse in the early 80’s by a lay person, I ensured, without guudelines, he was moved out of contact with groups in our Church. I went to civil and church authorities then – out of instinct that this was egregious, morally wrong and criminal behaviour. The courts made their judgments years later. I am very vigilant ever since re: abuse of any kind and speak out frequently. I hate abuse against anyone in any situation – be it emotional, physical, spiritual, mental or sexual. Whn I witnessed any such abuse I confronted the perpetrator, advising some to relinquish their responsibilities in the parish. All abuses are repugnant. In the deanery I belong to with about 30 priests, not one of us has ever had any accusation of abuse or misdeeds levelled against us. In 42 years as a priest, the only clerical abusers I know of are the many whose names are in the public domain. I do believe that many men entered seminaries with some sense of “vocation” but because of the prestige and education offered, parents were often pushy, domineering and powerful in influencing a son to “stay”. Never a good reason to be a priest. Also, the clericalism and specialness attributed to and assumed by the Church created an unhealthy, powerful dominance in too many areas of public concern and morality. The unquestioned authority of the Church and celibate priesthood was and is a major, contributory factor in on-going abuse. God help us. I waken each day to new questions about my life as a priest.

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1150 – clearly you are member of the Catholic Purity League – closet homo. Let’s go further and ban homosexual Priests from Churches shall we? What next – ban fat teachers, non white teachers, leave women teachers at home to do the cleaning? It is 2020 – Teachers should represent the communities they serve and come from a range of backgrounds. As far as Catholic schools go – 96% of children do not attend Church anyway.

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12.11pm Mick the dipstick more like, your argument doesn’t hold water or credibility. Just be quiet before you make yourself an even bigger fool.

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12:50 is a ruse.
He/she doesn’t like the fact that in Ireland, faith-based schools are the most welcoming and open places where the ethos is that all are welcome. This is a sound philosophical and moral position which is supported by the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

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Anon@ 1:33: I’ve noticed today that there are several comments with, and referring, to confusing timelines. It’s not always easy to work out who is referring or replying to whom.
This serves to emphasise the benefit of commentators using a pseudonym or ‘name-tag’ so replies to the can more clearly identify those whose comments they seek to reply to.
I’ve suggested this several times before. Mind you in reading the hostile type of abbreviated retorts here, it seems that their poverty of expression and banality suggests the absence of the intelligence or capacity to appreciate the benefits of this towards furthering discussion on the blog site.
MMM

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1.31, supported by the Judeo Christian tradition? Inclusivity in faith-based schools, even on the ground of sexual orientation? You don’t get around enough. Try the USA: eighty or more employees of the Catholic Church there, most of them teachers, sacked in the past eleven years either just for being gay, or for being in a same-sex relationship.

And this supposed inclusivity extends to gay candidates for seminary, banned explicitly by two popes.

And have you read the vicious condemnation of same-sex relations in Leviticus?

The Judeo-Christian tradition has been one of violent intolerance of gay people.

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Perhaps the Church has good reason to oppose the admission of gay seminarians. The “stars” of this blog – Rory, McCamley, Gorgeous, the Trolley Dolly, Fr X, the ex-PP of Pomeroy, McCarrick, Cocopalmerio, Zanchetta, Horney Andy, Mick Lomnasney, etc, etc, etc – are gay.

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4.12, these men committed malfeasance not because they were gay, but because they were morally odious characters. Your homophobia is obvious.
Being gay determines moral character no more than being straight. People choose to act gadly, not their sexuality.

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12.26pm I will be concise as opposed to the essays you have written – zzzzzzzz. Anyhow, if you know the institution you would rather put your trust in then Go and join it. It’s a free country, close the door on your way out flower.

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1.38, I’ll be even more concise: your post is a distraction from the glaring moral fractures in your church.
Man up, and face up to them.

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1:38 I’d rather like to put my trust in the Catholic Church if it was worthy of it, but it has consistently shown that it is pretty dysfunctional and rotten. I’m hoping that others will see this and help to root out the malaise and make it a Church that is more in keeping with the truth of the Gospel and the example of Jesus Christ. As of now it is lying, corrupt, venal, stupid, intransigent and obsessed with sexual matters. Well, I suppose when you have a clerical hierarchy that is supposed to be celibate, frustrated, angry and in denial, then they will work out their frustrations and anger on the rest of us ! It is my Church too, and I don’t feel the need to leave, just to try and kick it in to some reform.

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You must think that the Anglicans are not “in keeping with the truth of the Gospel and the example of Jesus Christ” or you would join them. Better to be an outward looking, happy, Anglican, than an inward, unhappy, Catholic focused on internal, arcane theological matters. I wouldn’t shop in Sainsbury’s if I thought it was a rotten place needing reform. I’d go to TESCO instead.

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4.07, but what if Sainsbury’s was raping youngsters, financially corrupt, and protecting paedophiles, would you head, then, for Tesco? Or would you step up to the moral plate (a Jesus would expect of you) andstruggle for transparency, accountability, and reform in Sainsbury’s?
What would you do?

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6.35, your snobbery is unambiguous.
Why not might any part of this island host a Waitrose store?
What are you insinuating?
Or haven’t you the spine to say, hey?!😆

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Tesco was founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen as a group of market stalls. The Tesco name first appeared in 1924, after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname.

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The clergy are desperate to get people back into the Churches it has all become rather comical. These bloodsuckers and freeloaders are simply missing the money and therefore want the people back to fill up the collections again.

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5.42, and isn’t that the truth.
The nonsense that people have been deprived of Jesus through lockdown is just a self-serving pretense by the clergy. Shameful, despicable, and utterly obvious.

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Tesco was founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen as a group of market stalls. The Tesco name first appeared in 1924, after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname.

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When the painful truth causes alarm and distress… stop the abuse? Or perpetuate the abuse? What would Jesus do?
“I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side! Silence him! Let us silence him!’ Babylon and her acolites of perdition are waiting for the innocent to slip, saying, ‘Perhaps they will be deceived; then we will prevail over tbem and take our revenge on them. “‘
… But the Lord is with us like a mighty warrior;
so our persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.”

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Paddy

Do you stay on here all day waiting for my eggs on my face ?

Yours

La quenta Lol Lol lOl the spelling is deliberate before you go into one of your ecstatic spins on another of my………Lol

How are you ?

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7.26: Hey Mullie: What weird commentary you print! Incomprehensible and silly. Take a class in English grammar and writing.

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Eamon Martin must resign and beg forgiveness from all the families affected by the actions of his seminarians. One former seminarians resorted to cutting his arms after one of Eamon’s seminarians raped him in his seminary bed.

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