Another Case of Clergy Abuse in Chicagoland, SNAP Calls for Outreach
Another Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago has been removed following allegations of clergy sexual abuse. We call on Church officials to use all resources at their disposal to ensure parishioners at every parish where this man worked are informed of the allegations, and that survivors and witnesses are encouraged to come forward and make a report to local law enforcement.
The allegations against Fr. Christopher Ciomek date back approximately thirty years, a period of time that directly fits in with established science and data regarding delayed disclosure of childhood sexual abuse. Given that the average age at which a survivor comes forward is 52, and the fact that one allegation being made public often spurs others who were abused to speak out, we would not be surprised if more people come forward with allegations against Fr. Ciomek.
With the timeframe provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago, it appears that the accusation may stem from Fr. Ciomek’s years as a seminarian. This is especially notable to us because the priest later held powerful roles within the Archdiocese of Chicago, including Associate Dean of Formation and Director of Chicago Seminarians. We worry that he could have stifled other reports of abuse that occurred within Chicago-area seminaries.
Catholic officials in Chicago should use parish bulletins, websites, and email lists to ensure that parishioners at every parish where Fr. Ciomek worked are made aware of the allegations. Anyone with information should be encouraged to first come forward to local police and prosecutors.
This news draws more attention to the lack of transparency from Archdiocesan leaders in Chicago. Although Fr. Ciomek has been accused by a courageous victim, we wonder how many dozens of other names are still suppressed because they are "order" or “extern” priests and not "diocesan" clergy. Cardinal Blase Cupich still refuses to name those perpetrators while wringing his hands that it is not his job to produce such a list. If a Cardinal - one of the true princes of the Catholic Church - cannot produce a complete list of accused, or order one from his subordinates, who will?
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)