IL- Archdiocese puts accused priest back on the job, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, Founder and President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
We are disappointed and surprised that Cardinal Francis George is putting Fr. Michael W. O’Connell back on the job despite an accusation that he sexually assaulted a boy in 1990.
We have met this victim and find him very credible. And we've seen dozens of cases across the country in which Catholic officials have reinstated an accused child molesting cleric only to later oust him permanently.
It takes a great deal of courage and strength for child sex abuse victims to speak up. They often suffer in silence and self blame for decades. Accusations are rarely made lightly. We hope that others will not be discouraged by O’Connell’s reinstatement and that Catholic officials and parishioners will remain vigilant in reporting known or suspected crimes to secular authorities, not church figures.
Fr. O’Connell has worked in Lakeview, Orland Park and Lake Forest.
We beg anyone who saw, suspected, or suffered crimes by O’Connell or any church employee to come forward and report to police. It is never too late to speak up.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.