The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Want Chicago Cardinal George To Visit South Holland Church
Their Priest Was Just Suspended Because of Abuse Allegations
SNAP Urges Cardinal to Hold "Q & A" Session With Parishioners
Unusual Prayer Servce For Accusers & Accused Is Set For Tomorrow Night
But "Catholics Deserve Straight Answers," Support Group Asserts
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Chicago's Catholic Cardinal to hold an open meeting with South Holland parishioners who just lost their pastor to child molestation allegations, like he did last week with a West Side parish.
At both churches, accused abusive priests have been exposed and removed in the last few weeks.
Catholic officials are planning to hold a prayer service tomorrow evening at Holy Ghost church in South Holland. Over the weekend, Catholics there were informed that Fr. Joseph Bennett was accused two years ago of molesting several girls.
Several members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Cardinal George, asking that he live up to his pledges to handle abuse cases more openly. They want him to hold a question and answer session soon with Holy Ghost families.
"For two years, you needlessly and recklessly kept South Holland children at risk by keeping the child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Bennett secret," said SNAP"s letter, sent today via fax and e mail. "The least you can do now is to give the parishioners a chance to discuss their feelings with you face-to-face, like you did at St. Agatha"s last week."
Fr. Dan McCormack is charged with molesting several boys. Like Bennett, McCormack was allowed to stay in parish ministry despite other allegations from years earlier.
"What on earth could be more important to Cardinal George than comforting and listening to these confused and wounded parishioners?" asked David Clohessy SNAP"s national director. "He should have been there yesterday, and he should be there tomorrow."
A copy of SNAP"s letter to George is below:
Feb. 6, 2006
Dear Cardinal George:
We were encouraged last week when you made the time and effort to talk face-to-face with distraught parishioners at St. Agatha"s parish about sex abuse allegations against Fr. Daniel McCormack. Parishioners at Holy Ghost deserve the same opportunity with sex abuse allegations against Fr. Joseph Bennett.
In both cases, there are multiple accusers. In both cases, you allowed a suspected child molester to stay in active ministry for years. In both cases, parishioners need to hear directly from you.
While you can"t undo the harm you"ve done, you can at least show by your presence that you have some understanding of the hurt your secrecy and recklessness have caused.
As you know, police and prosecutors are becoming increasingly aggressive and creative about pursuing even older child sex abuse charges these days. While the initial allegations against Bennett are from years ago, there is of course no guarantee that he hasn"t molested more recently.
That"s another reason you need to be in South Holland: to emphatically urge anyone who suspected, witnessed, or experienced abuse by Bennett to contact law enforcement. There is no better way to convey that you are indeed trying to reverse decades of cover up, by physically going to the parish and delivering this message personally.
We hope you will soon give South Holland Catholics the same opportunity afforded to West Side Catholics "a chance to talk with you face-to-face.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests