The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Cardinal George
July 22, 2009
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Dear Cardinal George
We are representatives of five organizations including, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a self-help support group for victims, Call To Action, a Catholic movement of 25,000 people working for equality and justice in the Church and society, VOTF, Voice of the Faithful, a group calling for the systemic reform of the Church so that all abuses end (sexual, financial, clerical power,) Coalition of Concerned Catholics, a group dedicated to supporting victims and working to remedy hierarchical abuses which put children at risk, Companions in Hope, an advocacy group of Catholics and former Catholics working to bring healing, protection and better understanding to the issue of various forms of abuse.
We are writing to you today to ask that you do more to expose the truth in a proactive stand of integrity, to assist the wounded and to protect the innocent.
We were appalled and disappointed at what we learned yesterday from the newly released church records and a sworn deposition of Bishop Raymond Goedert. He refused to call police roughly 25 admitted or credibly accused predator priests, now-retired. Often, Goedert misled parishioners about the allegations against the pedophiles. That callous disregard for the safety of children in those parishes not only put dozens, even hundreds of children at risk, it also enabled predators to abuse more children. Their childhoods were stolen and their innocence was shattered because of Goederts silence. No doubt those children, grown up by now, still suffer from the devastation caused by Goederts recklessness.
In spite of this, you have permitted Bishop Goedert to be honored by having a church-owned building named after him. We ask that you, Cardinal George, rename the building. Honoring a top church staffer who acted recklessly and deceitfully encourages other church staff to do likewise. Please make it clear that secretive actions that put children at risk are not tolerated under your tenure and anyone who acts that way will be punished, not honored.
Cardinal George, you claim that the archdiocese is more open now with clergy sex cases. If this is true, you should urge your flock to read Goederts deposition to learn about and from the deceit, secrecy and recklessness shown in these documents. We ask that a short notice about the deposition and documents be placed in each parish bulletin this weekend. We also want you to reverse yourself and voluntarily disclose the 21% (49 pages) of Goedert's deposition that your lawyers insisted be kept secret (with one exception: names of victims).
You are not being open when you keep over 20% of the document secret. We dont believe that your actions match your words. Your actions say that clerical secrecy is to continue even in 2009.
Both you and Bishop Goedert insist that the behavior displayed in the 1980s is no longer the policy in the Archdiocese of Chicago. But we witnessed the 80s behavior in your handling of the Father McCormack and the Father Bennett cases very recently. Both had credible allegations yet both were permitted to remain in ministry, and might still be there had not the survivors spoken up and the police taken action. It seems that the Goedert standard was promoted by your staff and followed by you regarding McCormack and Bennett yet none of those staff members were disciplined. The one employee who did the right thing, Principal Barbara Westrick, was fired. She is the one who called the police on Fr. McCormack when her supervisors told her to hold off on doing so. She was your only employee who should have been honored, thanked and recognized for doing the right thing.
Lastly, we ask that you state publicly that there are no more priests working in your Archdiocese who have credible allegations made against them, if this is in fact the case, even if you have someone allegedly monitoring them. We have asked previously but have yet to hear a public statement from you on this extremely important issue.