IL--Priest exploits woman; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Sunday, May 3
A Chicago priest has been suspended for allegedly sexually exploiting an adult woman. We call on Catholic officials to provide more details about these accusations and to prod others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his misdeeds to come forward.
It is inherently problematic when clergy have any sexual contact with congregants. There can be no true "consent" given the power difference between the individuals.
Our society has long understood that it's virtually always hurtful when a doctor has any sex with a patient or a psychologist has any sex with a client. Gradually, more people are finally understanding that the same holds true of a cleric and his or her congregant.
We hope this case will help others who were hurt by what may have initially seemed like “affairs” but were in fact crimes to see that they are not at fault.
We hope those victimized by clergy at any age will find the courage to step forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing
Finally, let’s be clear on what this is and what this isn’t. This is exploitation. It’s not “a relationship.” It’s manipulation. It’s not “consent.”
An educated, allegedly holy religious authority figure who holds the exalted title of “reverend” cannot ever have truly consensual or healthy sexual contact with a parishioner. It is always morally wrong and emotionally harmful.
Clergy always hold an exalted position, and when they have any sexual involvement with parishioners, it is always hurtful, especially when they profess, like Fr. Brerndan Curran does, to be celibate.
It's always the duty of powerful official – doctor, therapist or priest - to maintain boundaries and refrain from any sexual contact with the radically less powerful person – patient, client or parishioner.
It's the duty of church officials to help congregants understand this. And it’s the duty of church officials and members to reach out to and help those hurt by this egregious and hurtful misconduct and to help expose those predators who engage in it. We call on former members of Fr. Curran’s church and former colleagues of Fr. Curran’s to aggressively seek out and offer comfort to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his hurtful misconduct. We call on Archbishop Blasé Cupich to do the same.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)
Prominent Pilsen priest removed for breaking vows
A prominent Roman Catholic priest in Pilsen has been removed from his ministry after the Archdiocese of Chicago received an allegation from an adult woman of an inappropriate relationship.
"I deeply regret not self-identifying sooner about my immoral behavior: that was a mistake," Curran said in a joint statement released by the archdiocese and Dominican Friars on Sunday. "I failed to remember my ministry and my commitment as a priest, and for that I cannot apologize enough. I am heartbroken to know that my actions have caused pain to so many people. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize and ask for forgiveness. I plan on trying to make amends by seeking spiritual healing and rededicating myself to God's service."
According to the statement, Curran said the relationship was an "isolated instance."
"Father Brendan made a poor choice. Everyone does, to varying degrees. But he and his choices are held against a higher standard because he professed religious vows as a friar in the Dominican Order," the statement read. "His poor judgment in this instance casts a shadow on his enlightened and courageous ministry to Latino immigrants and the poor at St. Pius V parish and Chicago's southwest side."
The Rev. Charles Bouchard, head of the local Dominican order, commended the woman for coming forward.
"She deserves a sincere apology and we also have a responsibility to respect her anonymity and her privacy," Bouchard said in the statement. "We admire her courage and we're keeping her in our prayers."
As of last Thursday, Curran can no longer celebrate Mass or the sacraments. He left his position at St. Pius V and left the Chicago area shortly thereafter. Bouchard said Curran will seek evaluation, treatment, and spiritual healing in another Dominican community.
"Brendan is leaving this ministry, but we, as a religious order, have a different level of responsibility to him," Bouchard said.
"The pain of the victims and the publicity surrounding priestly misconduct has brought the Church to a much deeper understanding of ministerial integrity. We love and support Brendan and we will be here for him. But, at the same time, there is a purity of heart required to preach the Gospel with integrity and we know that only truth will get us there."
Bouchard has asked Archbishop Blase Cupich to appoint a temporary bilingual administrator for St. Pius V parish. A new pastor will be named before July 1.