Priest Involved With Controversial Mission Suspended

CHICAGO – Francis Cardinal George has suspended a pastor of a controversial mission group in Chicago, NBC5 reported on Friday. The Rev. Len Kruzel is the pastor of the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission, which is based in Chicago. Kruzel has repeatedly ignored Cardinal George’s request to lead the group. The mission has ties to several other states, NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern reported. It began as a prayer group, but in recent years members have cut off all ties to those outside of the group, including their own families.

Kruzel has been a Roman Catholic priest for more than 20 years. Francis Cardinal George acted on concerns about Kruzel’s connections to the group.

“I have told Father Kruzel that he should leave and must leave the mission,” Cardinal George said. “I have given him a command of obedience, and he hasn’t yet done that. Until he does, he may not do any public ministry.”

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The mission has several hundred members, including Iowa teenager Ashley Fahey, who gave up a college scholarship and has cut off all ties to those outside the mission. On Friday, Fahey’s mother, Lora Knott, reacted to the news that Kruzel had been suspended.

“He should have been a long time ago,” she said.

In a separate action on Friday, the city took the mission to housing court for possible zoning violations, and its lawyer agreed to a temporary injunction until a January hearing. The attorney declined to comment outside of court.

Knott, along with Fahey’s stepfather, was also outside court on Friday looking for answers about her daughter.

“I haven’t seen my daughter for 16 weeks on Wednesday,” Knott said to the attorney.

Alderman William Bank (36th Ward), in whose ward the mission resides, has had questions aobut secrecy surrounding the group.

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“Maybe we can get some questions answered,” Banks said. “And I do resent the fact that whatever operations are taking place seem to be under the guise or the auspices of the Catholic Church.”

The mission must allow city inspectors inside before the next court date in late January, Ahern reported.

“The inspection has been the main thing,” said Donna Backstrom, another parent from Iowa. “Because, I’m obviously concerned about the welfare of all of the kids involved.”

Fahey’s family also met with representatives of the archdiocese, after asking them to personally visiting their daughter.

“They don’t even answer the door for people in the archdiocese,” Knott said.

“We had a hard time finding out what they are,” Cardinal George said. “Which is why I finally said, ‘That’s enough.'”

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Dec. 16, 2005

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