Dear Chicago priest:
By now, you’ve seen a letter that Cardinal George wants you to give your flock this weekend. Please ask yourself this question: “Does that letter help protect the vulnerable?”
It does not.
And ask yourself: “Does that letter help heal the wounded, expose wrongdoers or deter wrongdoing?”
Again, it does not.
The letter burnishes your boss’ image. It misleads people. It causes complacency. Because it is self-serving and deceptive, it rubs salt into the already-deep and often still-fresh wounds of suffering victims and betrayed Catholics.
But it doesn’t make one child safer. It doesn’t expose one person who committed or concealed child sex crimes. It is about public relations, not public safety. It’s about spin, not about truth.
So we urge you to ignore the letter. We humbly believe that’s the right thing to do.
That takes courage, because in a feudal monarchy like the church, bucking the boss could cause you difficulty. But for the sake of actual prevention and true healing, we ask you to find this courage.
And we ask you instead to take a simple step this weekend that WILL help protect children. We ask that you read aloud from the pulpit and print in your bulletin the names of proven, admitted, credibly accused current and former Chicago child molesting clerics.
That is what helps stop future child sex crimes: when families are warned about specific individuals who have sexually assaulted boys and girls in the past.
And that is what helps deter future cover ups: when brave adults show corrupt adults that their efforts to conceal crimes will ultimately fail anyway.
You can use the list on the archdiocesan website, though it’s woefully incomplete:
Or you can use this more accurate list, compiled from public records by an independent research and archive group:
If you can’t bring yourself to do this, another option is to read and print the names of those proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics who are still alive. (That information is available at
Or please consider reading and printing the names of those clerics who have been publicly exposed – thanks to victims and usually despite Cardinal George’s ongoing secrecy – since 2002, when he and his brother bishops pledged to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes. (This list would include Fr. Michael Howard Weston, Fr. Howard J. Sturm, Fr. Robert Stepek, Fr. Russell Lawrence Romano, Fr. Joseph R. Burnett, Fr. Dominic Diederich, Fr. Michael T. Yakaitis, Fr. Wayne Wigglesworth, Fr. Kenneth Martin, Fr. Joseph Bennett and others.) Some of these clerics’ crimes were recent enough that their victims may still be children or at least be young enough that the predators might still face criminal charges within the statute of limitations.
Or, you might read or publish the names of the dozens religious order clerics who are proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesters and who work/worked or live/lived in Chicago, especially since George refuses to include them on the archdiocesan website. (This list would include Bro. Karl J. Walczak, Fr. John Baptist Ormechea and Fr. Donald J. McGuire.
Or the names of six clerics who we in SNAP have “outed” in recent months. (They are listed on our website and include Fr. Victor Phelan, Sister Agnes Santomassimo, Fr. Ronan C. Liles. Fr. William Paiz, and Fr. Thomas Paramo.)
Or the names of five clerics who are “accused brothers, deacon, nun, and seminarian.” (They are listed on BishopAccountability.org and include Br. Robert Brouillette, Deacon Juan Francisco Hinojosa, Sr., Benen Kent, Victor Phan, and Ruben Soto.)
Or the names of three clerics who are “accused of pornography offenses or sexual misconduct with adults.” (They are listed on BishopAccountability.org and include Fr. Domingo Hurtado-Badillo, Fr. Albert J. Pizza and Fr. Daniel R Schulte.)
The bottom line - Reading and publishing some names of dangerous and potentially dangerous predators is better than reading none. Reading and publishing George’s letter is a continuation of the harmful half-truths that has led to hundreds of Chicago boys, girls and vulnerable adults being exploited and hurt by predator clerics.
Again, good thoughts and intentions don’t keep kids safe. Tangible actions by responsible, caring adults protect children. Please be one of these responsible, caring adults. Please act this weekend in ways that safeguard the actual well-being of multiple vulnerable youngsters, not in ways that embellish the already-damaged reputation of one powerful prelate.
Barbara Blaine, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003 SNAPdorris@gmail.com)