February 25, 2006

Priest is removed from role

The Herald News

By Ted Slowik
staff writer

PEORIA A theologian, priest and author has been removed from ministry after being accused of sexually abusing a boy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet about 25 years ago.

The Rev. William Dennis Virtue, 57, denies the allegation, but has agreed to step down from public ministry, the Peoria Catholic Diocese said. Virtue has served in about 10 central Illinois churches since joining the Peoria Diocese in 1988 and most recently was administrator of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Earlville, northwest of Ottawa.

Virtue also had served at three parishes in the Rockford Diocese, and until two weeks ago was parochial administrator of St. James Church in Lee, a town in Lee County.

"We were notified by the Peoria Diocese on Feb. 13, at which time we rescinded his priestly faculties. He was told to vacate the premises by the next morning," said Owen Phelps, spokesman for the Rockford Diocese.

Posted by kshaw at February 25, 2006 06:57 AM