One week. Catholic officials couldn’t keep a monk away from children for one week, even after the monk was forbidden to have contact with children and had been arrested and charged with a felony for attempted child abduction and misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Where’s the outrage by Chicago area Catholic officials? It’s their flock that the monk likely assaulted. Where’s the outrage by Wisconsin Catholic officials (especially Milwaukee’s archbishop). It’s their flock that the monk’s supervisors likely endangered (by callous or careless supervision).
Here’s the short version:
On April 25, Thomas Chmura of the Benedictine order in Wisconsin drove up to a 14-year-old girl who ran away after repeatedly being asked to get in his car. Authorities said he later admitted he had approached the victim for the purpose of sexual gratification and had also offered rides to teenage girls several other times in recent weeks.
On May 2, he was “ordered back to jail,” the Chicago Tribune reports, “after authorities said that, during a routine check of the abbey by court officials, children were found to be present in the complex. That violated the conditions of Chmura's bond, which forbids him contact with anyone under the age of 17, prosecutors and police said.”
This is much like the roiling controversy surrounding Archbishop John Myers of Newark (who from 1999-2001 headed the Peoria Diocese). An admitted predator priest there, Fr. Michael Fugee, had similarly been ordered by prosecutors to keep away from children.
But Myers put Fr. Fugee in a hospital chaplaincy (until hospital staff learned of the priest’s conviction and ousted him). And Fugee heard kids’ confessions, attended kids’ retreats and even travelled with kids to Canada, all in apparent violation of the explicit agreement he and his Catholic supervisors had signed with law enforcement.
Kids are safest when predators are jailed. When that can’t happen, predators need to be in remote, secure, independent treatment facilities. And those who ignored or enabled their crimes have a duty to aggressively seek out others who have information or suspicions about clergy child sex crimes and actively help police and prosecutors pursue these predators.
But the day of secular authorities trusting religious figures to supervise known or suspected sex offender clerics should be long past.
We hope every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered Chmura’s crimes will call police and protect others. And we hope every single person who knows of or suspects crimes or cover ups by Benedictine officials will do likewise.