WILKINSBURG, Pa. - The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh sent out a letter Friday warning parishioners of a Wilkinsburg church of abuse accusations against a former parish priest.
The late Rev. John Wellinger served at St. James Church, and several other Pittsburgh churches, during his time as a priest in the diocese.
Friday’s letter came as Pope Francis I called for the Catholic Church to act quickly in sex-abuse cases and punish priests who harm children.
In Friday’s letter, Bishop David Zubik addressed the accusations against Wellinger by saying:
“My dear parishioners of Saint James in Wilkinsburg:
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has recently received a troubling allegation that Father John W. Wellinger, who was stationed as Parochial Vicar at Saint James Parish from June 1981 to July 1985, abused a member of the parish during that time. Father Wellinger, who died in 2011, had not served publicly as a priest since June 1995.
If you or a loved one were harmed in any way by Father Wellinger, I ask that you contact our diocesan Victim's Assistance Hotline at 1-800-932-0313. You need not carry this burden alone.
God bless all of you. We have just concluded together the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My prayers are with you during this Easter season. Please pray for me as well.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh”
Wellinger was named in a lawsuit that led to a $1.25 million settlement that the diocese paid to 32 victims of child sex abuse by local clergy. The settlement was reached in 2007. The offense citing Wellinger happened in 1989, the suit said.
Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.