MILWAUKEE -- A Cedarburg priest is cleared during an investigation of sexual abuse claims.
Father Tom Eichenberger was removed from St. Francia Borgia Parish in September.
The Milwaukee Archdiocese said even though no criminal charges had been filed, it is church policy to conduct its own review.
On Sunday, November 15th, Archbishop Jerome Listecki sent a letter to church members saying the case is complete -- and Fr. Eichenberger will return for services next weekend. Below is the complete text of that letter:
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Francis Borgia Parish,
In September, I wrote to you that we had received a claim against Father Tom Eichenberger alleging sexual abuse. It is my responsibility to write to you now to tell you that the investigation has been completed and the report against Father Eichenberger has not been substantiated.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee takes these reports very seriously, as did Father Eichenberger, who agreed to step aside as your pastor to allow for a thorough investigation.
In accord with archdiocesan policies, the report against Father Eichenberger was first reviewed by the district attorney’s office. No charges were filed and so the report was turned over to an independent investigator. The results of the investigation were studied by the Diocesan Review Board and they recommended to me that the allegation was not substantiated and that Father Eichenberger should be restored to ministry. I have accepted their recommendation and informed Father Eichenberger that he is fully restored to ministry and may resume his role as your pastor. He will be back at the parish later this week and will join you for Mass next weekend.
I thank Father Eichenberger for his patient cooperation with this process. The investigation that is conducted is thorough and professional because I do not want any doubt remaining when a conclusion is reached. I also want to thank Brenda Cline for her pastoral care of St. Francis Borgia during her time as administrator these past weeks. I remain indebted to the dedicated professionals who serve on our Diocesan Review Board and who so carefully weigh these cases and make recommendations to me about their resolution.
Most of all, I thank God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in guiding us. I have prayed for you throughout this painful journey and ask for your remembrance in prayer as we continue to face these challenges in the Church we love. We must also never forget to pray for those who walk with great sorrow and burdens.
With assurance of my prayers for the St. Francis Borgia community, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archdiocese of Milwaukee