Catholic religious order Society of the Divine Word exporting abusive priests

Category: Catholic Sexual Abuse

Even before he was ordained a Catholic priest, the Rev. Ronald Lange went to Ghana in 1968 to do missionary work.

In a profile by a community newspaper years later, Lange spoke of his commitment to learning about Ghana while teaching at schools there and leading a parish with more than a dozen worship sites.

“The people are just so happy to see you,” Lange, a member of the Society of the Divine Word’s Chicago province, based near Northbrook, was quoted as saying. “You don’t even have to be a good priest.”

And he wasn’t, as his order now acknowledges.

In his four decades as a Catholic missionary in Ghana, Lange has been credibly accused of sexually abusing children over “multiple years.”

That’s according to his order’s Chicago hub. Facing scrutiny over its predator priests, including one who’s now on trial in East Timor, the order has for the first time revealed the names and past postings of Divine Word clergy who’ve been part of the Chicago province and been deemed by its leaders to have been credibly accused of child sex abuse anywhere in the world.

Lange, 79, is one of two priests on that list who formally remains part of the Chicago province of the Society of the Divine Word, an international religious order that “focuses on missionary work” and since 1875 has “entered lands where people are in need” and shared “God’s love.”

The Rev. Ronald Lange, a Catholic priest who’s part of the Society of Divine Word’s Chicago province, is accused of child sex abuse in Iowa and while serving in Ghana. He’s no longer allowed in public ministry.

He’s also one of 26 current, former or deceased members the province now says have had substantiated accusations against them of having sexually abused children.

A number of them were sent out into the world to do their missionary work after serving, training or being ordained at the Divine Word’s Chicago province headquarters, called Techny, along Waukegan Road north of Willow Road in the north suburbs.

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