The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Cardinal George
January 28, 2010
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Dear Cardinal George:
Two weeks ago, Chicago Catholics and citizens were informed that Fr. Frank Paduch is a credibly accused child molester. Our group did this. You could and should have done this back in 1997, when your staff learned of and then paid a settlement to one of his victims. But you chose to keep silent.
On Monday, the public was informed that over 140 child sex abuse victims who were hurt by a church volunteer who is a Chicago native and was a long time Chicago resident. Brave child sex abuse victims did this. You or other church officials could and should have done this back in the 1980s, when allegations against Joseph C. Lundowski first began coming to light, and again in 2008 when over 100 victims came forward. But you chose to keep silent.
On Tuesday, North Dakota citizens and Catholics were informed that Brother Raimond Rose now faces his 10th accuser. A courageous abuse victim did this. You could and should have done this back in 2003, when Rose was first accused. But you chose to keep silent.
On Tuesday, Boston Catholic officials were forced to admit that three alleged predator priests from Ireland worked in their archdiocese. Victims, advocates and journalists forced them to do this. At least two of the Irish predator priests worked here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. You could and should have exposed this in your archdiocese. But you chose to keep silent.
The common denominator here is both clear and disturbing. In each case, Catholic officials, including those in here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, knew of but basically kept silent about credible child sex abuse allegations against church staff. The crimes and identities of these offenders surfaced in spite of, not because of, concern or action by you, your colleagues, or your employees.
It's clear that when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups, your "default" posture continues to be secrecy.
That silence and secrecy is precisely what enabled thousands of priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians, bishops and other church workers to sexually violate perhaps hundreds of thousands of once trusting young girls and boys. It's precisely what enables hundreds of church officials to quietly move those predators to new locations where they can molest again. And it's precisely what you and your brothers in the church hierarchy pledged, over and over again, to stop doing.
Yet you don't. As surely as day follows night, you insist on keeping silent about clergy sex crimes and cover ups until someone else - victims, police, prosecutors, judges, journalists or litigants - force your hand.
When will this ever end? When will you begin to honor your promises of being "open and transparent" with clergy sex crimes and allegations?
Let's just take Lundowski. He's accused of molesting over 140 Alaskan kids and Alaska church officials settle with those victims. Lundowski grew up in Chicago, and moved back here after abusing in Alaska, and lived for over 15 years here. As he did in Alaska, Lundowski worked here among a very vulnerable group of people (homeless families). Don't history, psychology and common sense strongly suggest he also sexually assaulted at least one child in Chicago? (For all you know, he could have molested dozens here.) Yet you remain silent.
And let's take O'Leary. We've never seen any indication that he has passed away or been jailed. So almost certainly, he walks free among unsuspecting neighbors, and perhaps works or volunteers at a Catholic school, church or institution. Don't history, psychology and common sense strongly suggest he might be sexually assaulting children right now? Yet you remain silent.
Keep in mind, these aren't "mere allegations." As far as we can tell:
In each case, there are multiple accusers. That speaks to the credibility of the allegations against these clerics.
As best we can tell, only Rose is still on the church payroll. That speaks to the credibility of the accusations against these clerics.
In the cases of Lundowski and Paduch, church officials paid settlements to their victims. That speaks to the credibility of the allegations against these clerics.
And as you well know, wrongful allegations of child sex abuse involving priests are exceptionally rare.
In light of all this, we are asking you to take a few, simple, inexpensive, common sense steps to both protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. They include:
In the short term, we especially urge you to focus on seeking out those who saw, suspected or suffered Paduch's crimes. Any day now, his Berwyn employer may announce that they've found no evidence of wrong-doing and are restoring Paduch to his taxpayer-funded job across the street from a school. If you act with speed and compassion, you might be able to find victims who are able to ultimately get Paduch jailed (so he can't hurt others) or at least permanently removed him from his city job near children.
You can't undo your reckless, callous and deceitful actions of the past. But you can take steps right now to make Chicago kids safer. Please take those steps, Cardinal, right now.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests