January 17, 2006

'People's priest' Lutz dies

Daily Southtown

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

By Maureen O'Donnell
Special to the Daily Southtown

The Rev. Robert Lutz was known as a priest who listened to the congregation.
"He was a people's priest; that's for sure,'' said Bishop Thad Jakubowski. "He was really for the people. He listened to them. He took their advice. He was not one to be pushy."

The Rev. Lutz, who served for 44 years in the parishes of Chicago's Roman Catholic Archdiocese, was named pastor emeritus at St. Norbert Parish in 1994 after a 10-year stint as pastor. He served the previous 10 years as pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea on the Southwest Side. ...

That trust in God helped the Rev. Lutz, friends said, when a lawsuit accused him and a female school principal of molesting a 7-year-old boy at St. Norbert in the 1980s. A jury exonerated them after a civil trial, and Northbrook police said an investigation by the Cook County state's attorney's office determined the charges by the boy's parents were unfounded.

"He felt no ill feelings toward anyone,'' Jakubowski said. "He was a man of prayer.''

Nonetheless, the Rev. Lutz filed a defamation lawsuit against the boy's parents and reached a settlement. Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse said such lawsuits could intimidate victims. Friends countered that he had endured a five-year wait for vindication.

Posted by kshaw at January 17, 2006 07:29 AM