IL- Process to get new Chicago cardinal starts
For immediate release Thursday, May 22
Statement by Kate Bochte, SNAP Leader, 630-768-1860 firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope that Chicago's next Catholic Archbishop will do more to prevent future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. But we're not optimistic.
Pope Francis, like his predecessors, keeps promoting bishops who have concealed or are concealing heinous sexual violence against kids.
The list of proven, admitted and credibly accused clerics who committed or concealed child sex crimes and who have been ignored or helped by Cardinal George is a long and sorry one. Some are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters (Fr. Kenneth Martin, Fr. Joseph Bennett, Fr. Norbert Maday). Others ignored or concealed abuse, according to SNAP and church records, complicit (Fr. Leonard Dubi and Fr. Edward Grace).
Time and time again, George has been dishonest about child sex crimes and reckless and secretive about the clerics who perpetrated them. He kept knowingly favoring friends and predators over kids and Catholics, to the point of taking extraordinarily obvious and inexcusable risks even with proven pedophiles.
Cardinal George also
-- let a convicted pedophile priest quietly work in archdiocese (Fr. Kenneth J. Martin),
-- refused for years to suspend a credibly accused predator facing more than 12 abuse allegations (Fr. Joseph Bennett),
-- tried to get a convicted pedophile priest released early from prison (Fr. Norbert Maday),
-- twice rejected the recommendations of hiw own abuse panel (the Bennett case),
-- tolerated the complicit high-ranking chancery office priest who advised an accused predator on how to deceive a church review panel (Fr. Edward Grace),
-- named an accused predator’s friend (Fr. Edward Dubi) to allegedly monitor him, despite clear pleas by abuse review panel to name anyone else for that role,
-- tolerated the egregious misconduct by a predator’s friend who shoved a person for simply asking questions about the predator (Fr. Edward Dubi)
Let’s look at these situations a little more closely
The Fr. Kenneth J. Martin case
In 2003, George let a convicted child molesting priest, Fr. Kenneth J. Martin, work in the archdiocese. He also let him live in his mansion for a week each month. He told no one, even though six months earlier, he pledged to be open and transparent about abuse.
Then, news accounts disclosed Martin’s presence and role in the archdiocese. In response, George’s staff split hairs, emphasized that Martin abused as a seminarian, not a priest, so might not be covered by the church’s sex abuse policies.
Still, under considerable public pressure, George told a reporter Fr. Martin "won't be coming back to Chicago."
However, later news accounts disclosed that this convicted predator was still on George’s payroll. Martin’s office was next door to a parochial elementary school.
The Fr. Joseph R. Bennett case
-- In August 2008, newly released secret church records and Cardinal George’s own sworn deposition show that he suspended an accused serial predator priest, Fr. Bennett, from his suburban parish in 2006 only after at least a dozen victims had reported him.
-- Those same documents show that George overruled the recommendations of his own hand-picked abuse panel and had him allegedly and secretly (but ineffectively) ‘monitored by a fellow priest, Fr. Leonard Dubi, who is a close friend of Bennett.
-- George’s hand-picked abuse panel specifically, in two memos, urged him to NOT assign Dubi to this role.
-- In the same documents, Fr. Edward Grace, the archdiocese’s Vicar for Priests, urged Bennett to essentially lie about birthmarks on his genitals to beat multiple child sex abuse allegations before a lay church panel.
The Fr. Norbert Maday case
-- The same deposition and documents also reveal that George and his top staffers spent considerable time and effort secretly trying to win the early release of a convicted serial child predator, Fr. Norbert Maday.
Sadly, however, these cases are just more in a long line of irresponsible, deceptive and insensitive steps Cardinal George took regarding clergy sex crimes and cover ups. They are part of a much larger, on-going, and disturbing pattern in the Chicago archdiocese, a pattern that goes back a long way, and that has changed little (if at all) since church officials promised to reform in 2002. Here are four more examples.
The Fr. John Calicott case
In March 2004, twice-suspended abusive priest Fr. John Calicott was caught working, living and teaching sex education to kids at his old parish, with the full knowledge of the pastor. George slapped Calicott on the wrist, but refused to discipline or censure the pastor, Fr. George Miller, who knowingly put children in harm's way and violated the US bishops' national abuse policy.
The Fr. Michael Yakaitis case
In February 2005, Fr. Michael T. Yakaitis worked at the University of Chicago's Catholic Center, despite having admitted to sexual misconduct with a teenager years ago. A victim reported Yakaitis' exploitation and manipulation to at least seven church officials. But George let the abuser stay in ministry until this was publicly exposed.
The Fr. Elijah Martin case
In October 2005, George refused to discipline Father Elijah Martin or warn others about him. Fr. Martin seduced a young woman, fathered her child, ignored her, and refused to pay child support. Fr. Martin’s direct superiors also refused to give the mom any information about the priest’s whereabouts
The Fr. Daniel McCormack case
-- In the fall of 2005, Fr. McCormack was arrested for child molestation. Weeks later, George promoted him to head a deanery, or region, of the archdiocese, even though his own hand-picked abuse panel recommended that Fr. McCormack be suspended.
In January 2006, McCormack was arrested again. He assaulted one 11 year old boy "on an almost daily basis" from Sept. 2005 until Jan. 2006. He was kept in ministry years after several reports of child sexual abuse, including repeated written and verbal ones from a Catholic nun more than seven years earlier to archdiocesan staff.
Almost all of these reckless, inexcusable actions (and inactions) happened AFTER Cardinal George and his colleagues repeatedly and emphatically pledged, in 2002, to reform how they dealt with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
The bottom line: For years, Cardinal George continued to put his own reputation and comfort above the safety and well-being of his flock
We fear that other accused child-molesting clergy are in still Chicago parishes right now, unbeknownst to parishioners, allegedly being monitored by peers. We fear there are or have been other jailed sex offender clerics who have gotten or are getting behind the scenes help. And we can’t help but wonder, of course, what other shocking and irresponsible actions by church officials under Cardinal George still remain hidden.
We wish the Cardinal well as he battles his cancer. We hope he has a long retirement. He did much good as the head of the archdiocese. But he acted selfishly and secretively and irresponsibly in case after case after case involving child molesting priests, nuns, seminarians and other church employees.
So we hope that Chicago Catholics and citizens resist the temptation to “sugar-coat” his dreadful track record on children's safety and the temptation to assume that his successor will somehow be better on this continuing scandal.
Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects kids.
(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 18,000 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)