Victims leaflet outside church
Their concerns: JPII & predator priest
Twice accused Catholic cleric is still on the job
Put back into a parish, he now faces 2nd accuser
Self help group suspects others were also assaulted by him
In “unprecedented move,” archdiocese lets priest “self-regulate”
SNAP members will also denounce Pope John Paul II sainthood
As parishioners leave mass, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand out fliers about their recently accused, suspended and re-instated priest who allegedly assaulted two children. The leaflets urge local Catholics to
--ask their loved ones if they were hurt by the priest, and, if so, urge them to get help, and
--report anything they know, see or hear about the cleric’s crimes to police officials, not church officials.
The fliers also ask parishioners to insist that local Catholic officials:
– immediately suspend the credibly accused child molesting cleric again,
– apologize for claiming the priest will voluntarily keep himself away from kids,
– put him in a remote, secure, independent treatment center, and
– aggressively seek out others through pulpit announcements, website notices and parish bulletin articles who may have seen, suspected or suffered the priest's crimes.
Sunday, April 27 between 10:15 and 11:30am
Outside St. Alphonsus Catholic parish 1429 W. Wellington Ave (corner of Southport) Chicago, IL
Three-four victims of clergy sex crimes who belong to an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Two weeks ago, Chicago Cardinal Francis George put Fr. Michael W. O'Connell, an accused child molester, back on the job at St. Alphonsus Catholic parish (773 525 0709) in Lakeview. (In December, Fr. O’Connell stepped down from his post there because of accusations that he had molested a boy at Our Lady of the Woods Parish (708 361 4754) in Orland Park (1997-2012).
But last week, a second man reported to journalists, police and prosecutors that he saw Fr. O'Connell molest another boy. The Cook County Sheriff has re-opened an investigation into the priest.
In light of this, and for the safety of kids, SNAP called on George to suspend Fr. O’Connell again. But archdiocesan staff are leaving the priest in the parish and claims he voluntarily agrees to stay away from children. SNAP calls this “self-restriction” promise “ridiculous” and says that no other archdiocese in the US does this.
“It's like putting a drug addict to work in a pharmacy and claiming “he's agreed to never be alone with pills,' says SNAP's Barbara Dorris.
SNAP says Fr. O'Connell should be also put in a remote, secure, independent treatment center so that kids will be safe. The group also says that, according to church policy, Fr. O’Connell should have been suspended, not allowed to “voluntarily” step aside in the first place (which SNAP says minimizes his alleged crimes and enables more parishioners to complacently assume he’s innocent).
“A dozen years ago, America's bishops adopted a 'zero tolerance' policy, yet a twice-accused predator is in a large parish on the job here in Chicago,” says SNAP Kate Bochte. “Chicago church officials are still following the same old musty playbook that enabled at least 118 clerics to commit thousands of life-altering crimes against kids.”
The group will also discuss their dismay at the sainthood of Pope John Paul II. SNAP members believe it is an unwise and insensitive move that will 1) further hurt thousands of already suffering victims and millions of already betrayed Catholics, and 2) deter other victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers from speaking up and reporting crimes in the future (because they will feel even more powerless and hopeless, knowing that officials who hide clergy sex crimes continue to be praised, not punished, in the church.
Finally, the group will also prod anyone who many have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups - at this parish or others - to come forward, get help, expose predators, protect kids, deter wrongdoing and start healing.
Kate Bochte (630-768-1860, firstname.lastname@example.org) Mary Lu O'Halloran 630-232-6039 email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), David Clohessy (314-566-9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)