IL - Group Wants Southside Chicago Pastor Disciplined
For immediate release:
March 4, 2004
For more information:
Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747
David Clohessy 314 566 9790
He Allowed Accused and Suspended Priest Back Into Parish
SNAP Urges Cardinal To Enforce Zero Tolerance Policy
Leaders of a nationwide support group for clergy abuse victims are urging Cardinal Francis George to discipline a Catholic priest who allowed a suspected child molester back into his parish.
Because of abuse charges, Father John Calicott of Holy Angels parish was twice removed from ministry, by two different bishops. He admitted "sexual misconduct" with two boys. Yet until weeks ago, Calicott has been teaching classes to kids, including sex education, back at the very same parish from where he was removed.
The pastor of Holy Angels, Fr. George Miller, has admitted he permitted Calicott to help at the school and parish because he "doesn't believe in that zero tolerance policy."
"Fr. Miller is openly defying Cardinal George," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "The Cardinal needs to decide who runs his archdiocese. When it comes to the sexual abuse of kids, he either has a 'zero tolerance' policy or a 'turn a blind eye' policy. The Cardinal must choose."
"Why bother removing abusive priests if those dangerous men simply sneak back in and no one suffers any consequences?" said Blaine.
"The Cardinal can remove suspected abusers day in and day out, but if their brother priests let them back in, kids will be in danger," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's national director.
In recent interviews with local media, both Miller pastor and Calicott himself admitted the suspended cleric has been at the parish a great deal.
Calicott, it turns out, has been at the parish "almost daily," despite the much-touted nationwide "zero tolerance" policy bishops adopted and continually crow about.
"But Father Calicott is not the issue. Father Miller is," Blaine said. "How can Cardinal George allow Miller to elude responsibility for this deliberately dangerous and disrespectful behavior?"
"Calicott is a disturbed man who won't listen to reason and won't obey his bishop. That's clear," Clohessy said. "So punishing Calicott will likely have little or no impact on his behavior. George needs to punish Miller."
Two of Cardinal George's colleagues, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport and Bishop Charles Grahmann of Dallas, have disciplined priests who defy zero tolerance policies, the SNAP leaders claim.
Former Connecticut priest Laurence Brett was wanted by the FBI for molesting kid in three states. They tracked him down to a Caribbean island, but he narrowly escaped. Agents did find evidence that two Bridgeport priests had corresponded with Brett, a criminal suspect on the run from the law. Bishop Lori disciplined those two priests.
In Dallas, in the wake of the widely publicized Fr. Rudy Kos case, the diocese began background checks on all parish employees. A Dallas Morning News investigation showed that at least two pastors failed to implement these simple safeguards. In response to public pressure, Bishop Grahmann demoted these errant pastors to smaller parishes.
"By taking these sound management steps, both church leaders sent their flock a clear signal: hiding or enabling a child molester will not be tolerated," Blaine said. "Cardinal George needs to do likewise."
Blaine and Clohessy both praised the two Calicott victims who have come forward in the last two days and spoken publicly.
"It takes tremendous courage to do what they've done, especially in the face of such a popular and charismatic priest," Blaine said. "We have tremendous gratitude and admiration for them. Thanks to their bravery, children will be safer."
David Clohessy of St. Louis and Barbara Blaine of Chicago are leaders of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group's website is SNAPnetwork.org