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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, October 14, 2010

New San Antonio archbishop, Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

It’s disappointing every time the Pope promotes top church insiders from troubled dioceses with track records of concealing abuse. Though we know little about Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, it’s clear that he has been largely silent for seven years about the on-going abuse and cover up crisis in the Chicago archdiocese, never once publicly challenging his colleagues or boss to be more pro-active, prudent or compassionate.

We see no evidence whatsoever that Garcia-Siller has done anything to object to expose the reckless, callous and deceptive moves in the Chicago archdiocese that have needlessly put children in harm’s way in recent years.

His defenders will claim “In Chicago, Cardinal George calls the shots on abuse cases. Garcia-Siller can’t be blamed for George’s actions.” In a strictly technical sense, this may be accurate. But this is precisely the irresponsible, passive attitude that leads to so many child sex crimes and cover ups.

In at least a dozen instances across the country, church staff (including auxiliary bishops) has found the courage and strength to speak up when they see their peers or supervisors behaving irresponsibly in abuse cases. Again, we’ve seen not a single sign that Garcia-Siller has ever done this.

As best we can tell, Garcia-Siller kept quiet through each of these reckless, hurtful moves:

-- In March 2004, twice-suspended abusive priest Fr. John Calicott was caught working, living and teaching sex education to kids at his old parish, with the full knowledge of the pastor. George slapped Calicott on the hand, but refused to discipline or censure the pastor, Fr. George Miller, who knowingly put children in harm's way and violated the US bishops' national abuse policy.

-- In February 2005, Fr. Michael T. Yakaitis worked at the University of Chicago's Catholic Center, despite admitting sexual misconduct with a teenager years ago. A victim reported Yakaitis' exploitation and manipulation to at least seven church officials. But archdiocesan staff let the abuser stay in ministry until this was publicly exposed.

-- In October 2005, archdiocesan staff refused to discipline or warn others about Father Elijah Martin who seduced a young woman, fathered her child, ignored her, and refused to pay child support. Martin’s direct superiors also refused to give the mom any information about the priest’s whereabouts. George washed his hands of this controversy, despite repeated requests by our group to show compassion.

-- In the fall of 2005, Fr. Daniel McCormack was arrested for child molestation. Weeks later, he was promoted to head a deanery, or region, of the archdiocese.

-- In January 2006, McCormack was arrested again. He assaulted one 11 year old boy "on an almost daily basis" from Sept. 2005 until Jan. 2006. He was kept in ministry for years despite several reports of child sexual abuse, including repeated written and verbal ones from a Catholic nun more than seven years ago to archdiocesan staff.

-- We repeatedly urged Chicago Catholic officials to “aggressively and immediately” reach out to parishes where McCormack worked, and prodded George to personally start visit those churches, emphatically reminding Catholics that they have a moral and civic duty to disclose anything they know about these allegations to law enforcement. He ignored us.

-- For months awaiting trial, archdiocesan staff let McCormack live with relatives, refusing to order him to stay in a treatment center for pedophiles.

-- We were highly critical of that move, calling it ‘reckless;’ and ‘irresponsible.’ We repeatedly urged George to reconsider. He ignored us.

-- Five top church staff who were involved in the McCormack have all essentially been promoted since then. Only one has been disciplined – the female school principal who actually called the police and reported McCormack’s crimes.

-- Church records secured through litigation and Cardinal George’s sworn deposition show that an accused serial predator priest, Fr. Joseph R. Bennett, was suspended from his suburban parish in 2006 only after at least a dozen of his victims had reported him to church authorities.

-- Those same documents show that George overruled the recommendations of his own hand-picked abuse panel and had him alleged and secretly (but ineffectively) ‘monitored’ by a fellow priest (Fr. Leonard Dubi) who is a close friend of Bennett’s. The two of them own property together in Indiana. They then took a trip to Mexico together.

-- George’s hand-picked abuse panel specifically, in two memos, urged George to NOT assign Dubi to this role. The Cardinal rejected their recommendation.

-- The same deposition and documents also reveal that George and his top staffers spent considerable time and effort secretly trying to win the early release of a convicted serial child predator, Fr. Norbert Maday, who is in a Wisconsin prison.

-- We suspect and fear there are or have been other jailed sex offender clerics who have gotten or are getting the help ‘behind the scenes’ from top church staff. We have asked archdiocesan officials to stop it immediately, and to disclose if he’s taken similar reckless action with other pedophiles. They have ignored us.

--We publicly called on George to promise he’d never again try to get a convicted pedophile priest out of jail early. He has not responded.

-- We fear other accused child-molesting clergy are in still Chicago parishes right now, unbeknownst to parishioners, allegedly being ‘monitored’ by peers. We’ve asked archdiocesan officials to disclose who and where they are and/or abide by the church’s national abuse policy and publicly suspend them. They have ignored us.

In the same documents, Fr. Edward Grace, the archdiocese’s Vicar for Priests. Grace, urged Bennett to essentially lie about birthmarks on his genitals to ‘beat’ multiple child sex abuse allegations before a lay church panel.

-- We asked archdiocesan officials to discipline these ‘enablers’ – Dubi and Grace - whose deceit put kids in harm’s way. Again, we’ve been ignored.

This is just a smattering of troubling clergy sex cases in Chicago during Garcia-Stiller’s reign as a bishop here. It defies common sense to think he knew nothing about any of these abuses. And it’s distressing that he evidently did little or nothing to heal the wounded, protect the vulnerable, or expose or oppose the hurtful actions of his Chicago church colleagues.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org