Velis said his findings raise questions about whether there was an attempt to conceal the diocesan investigator’s reports about Bishop Weldon from the review board or Bishop Rozanski.
Mark Dupont, secretary of communications for the Diocese of Springfield, disputed to CNA that the Velis report contained “finding of any cover-up.”
Archbishop Rozanski told Velis he was not aware of the specifics of Doe's allegation of abuse by Bishop Weldon, and did not know about the different reports about Doe's allegation produced by the diocesan investigator. Archbishop Rozanski has said he knew that Bishop Weldon was accused of being “present during incidents of abuse that occurred.”
In June 2020, following the report’s release, Archbishop Rozanski apologized for the “chronic mishandling of the case, time and time again, since 2014.” Archbishop Rozanski backed major changes in the Springfield diocese's handling of abuse during his tenure.
“At almost every instance, we have failed this courageous man who nonetheless persevered thanks in part to a reliable support network as well to a deep desire for a just response for the terrible abuse which he endured,” the then-archbishop-designate said at a press conference one year after he commissioned Velis to conduct the investigation.
Both a diocesan investigator and a victim's advocate involved in Doe's case are no longer employed by the diocese, and Bishop Weldon is now named on the Springfield diocese website as a “deceased bishop who was found to have credible allegations of abuse.”
Both the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Diocese of Springfield have, to other publications, declined to comment on pending cases.
This is not the first time abuse concerns regarding a bishop have surfaced in the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
In 2004, Bishop Thomas Dupre became the first Catholic bishop in the U.S. to be indicted on criminal charges for sexual abuse. The case did not go to trial due to the statute of limitations on some charges and because the grand jury decided not to indict on other charges, The Republican reported. Bishop Dupre was Bishop of Springfield from 1995 to 2004.
Bishop Weldon was consecrated and appointed Bishop of Springfield in 1950, after coming to prominence in the Archdiocese of New York.
Though he was ordained a priest for that archdiocese in 1929, the New York archdiocese does not include Bishop Weldon on its list of credibly accused priests.
(Story continues below)
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There are no consistent Church norms regarding notification of a credible allegation of abuse when a priest or bishop is from another diocese.
Article 7 of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People says that dioceses are to be “open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved.”
“This is especially so with regard to informing parish and other church communities directly affected by sexual abuse of a minor,” the charter reads.