— Rev. Goedert, a survivor of the Andrea Doria shipwreck, said in a 2007 deposition that he knew 25 priests had broken the law over the years by abusing children but never alerted police.
By Kade Heather
The Rev. Raymond Goedert, a renowned church official who had many titles and later drew scrutiny over allegedly covering up priest sexual abuse allegations in the Chicago area, died Saturday.
He was 96.
The Rev. Goedert rose to prominence in the Catholic Church community upon his ordination in 1952, eventually rising to auxiliary bishop in 1991 and serving as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago from 1995 until his retirement in 2003.
“He served the archdiocese in a variety of roles: as pastor, notary, vicar general and as administrator of the archdiocese after Cardinal Bernardin died,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement. “A friend to me and to so many and a caring brother to his siblings, he leaves this earth to be at the banquet of Our Lord. May his soul rest in peace.”
The Rev. Scott Donahue, whose first assignment after being ordained in 1982 was with the Rev. Goedert at St. Barnabas Parish, called the Rev. Goedert “a very good man.”
“As a priest I have received many blessings in my life. One of the greatest blessings in my 42 years of being a priest is my friendship with Bishop Raymond Goedert,” Donahue said.
Despite having remained in good standing as a bishop, the Rev. Goedert admitted to lawyers deposing him in 2007 that he knew 25 priests had broken the law over the years by molesting children but that he never alerted police, records show.
The alleged cover-ups happened a few years after clergy sex abuse scandals had come to light nationally in the 1980s.
The archdiocese has said it handles allegations of abuse differently now, immediately reporting such allegations to authorities.
The Rev. Goedert’s admission in 2007 was a low point in an otherwise successful 71 years with the Catholic Church.
The Rev. Goedert started as an assistant pastor at St. Gabriel Parish, where he later became pastor, and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Chicago, as well as at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside.
Among his many roles, the Rev. Goedert had served as an ecclesiastical notary, archdiocesan consultor, archdiocesan director of a ministry for the widowed and president of the Canon Law Society of America, from where he received the Role of Law Award in 1975.
The Rev. Goedert was born Oct. 15, 1927, in Oak Park. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, and the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein.
In 1956, the Rev. Goedert earned a licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The transatlantic oceanliner he rode on his way back to the U.S., the Andrea Doria, sank when it collided with another passenger ship about 200 miles off Nantucket, Massachusetts.
The collision killed 51 people. The Rev. Goedert and three other Chicago-area priests were among the survivors of the wreck.
“I certainly thought the end had come,” the Rev. Goedert said in a 2012 interview with the New World (now Chicago Catholic) newspaper. “When I said the Hail Mary, the words ‘now and at the hour of our death’ sounded pretty immediate. I started making so many promises to God I don’t remember them all. They were genuine. I was reacting partially from faith and partially from fear.
“I certainly have great gratitude to God for sparing us,” the Rev. Goedert added. “I certainly had a great understanding that death could come at any time.”
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