Letter of Cardinal Cupich on the reinstatement of Father William McFarlane to active ministry

By Chicago Catholic
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Corrected to reflect the actual date the Independent Review Board met.

Nov. 2, 2019

Dear Parishioners of Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel Parish,

In July, I informed you of an accusation of sexual abuse against your former pastor, Father William McFarlane. In keeping with our procedures, he was asked to step aside from active ministry until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during those investigations.

Following the determination by state officials charged with the protection of minors, that the allegation was unfounded, the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago studied the matter in accordance with our usual procedures. At their meeting on Saturday, October 19, 2019, the Board found that there was insufficient reason to suspect that Father McFarlane had committed sexual abuse of a minor. Therefore, I am restoring Father McFarlane to active ministry, effective immediately. As Father McFarlane takes up a new assignment, which we anticipate announcing shortly, I ask you to keep him in your prayers, aware of the many ways he has contributed to the lives of those he has served.

I want to take this occasion to remind our parishioners and the public that: 1) since 1992, the Archdiocese of Chicago has enforced safe environment protocols and a code of conduct for all who work with minors and we have reached out to victims with pastoral and personal attention; 2) since 2002 we have reported all allegations to the civil authorities and in that year we reported all historical allegations to these authorities; 3) beginning in 2006, we have publicly listed the names of priests who have substantiated allegations of abuse of minors against them and in 2014 we published more than 20,000 pages of information on these cases; 4) in accord with our zero-tolerance policy, no priest with even one substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor remains in ministry.

It is important to note that our policies also call us to do everything possible to restore the good name of priests when the process has determined allegations against them to be unfounded. This, too, is a matter of justice. As a result, I will share this letter with all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, asking them to provide it to their parishioners. This letter will also be sent to the media and posted on our archdiocesan website.

My prayer for you is that a spirit of reconciliation and unity prevails as you move ahead with the efforts of Renew My Church to make your parish vibrant, vital and sustainable. In this way, the mission of Jesus can flourish.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Archbishop of Chicago


  • clergy sexual abuse

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