IL--Chicago predator priest dies; Victims respond
For immediate release: Thursday, July 30, 2016
Local Catholic officials have kept hidden the passing of Fr. Robert Stepek, a predator priest who sued his victims and who died last week. Shame on Archbishop Blasé Cupich for his hurtful secrecy.
Fr. Stepek was permanently removed from active ministry in 2006 when two brothers reported having been sexually assaulted as kids by him. Then-Cardinal Francis George let Fr. Stepek sued the brothers for defamation. The brothers then sued George and Stepek. Inexplicably, Vatican officials insisted that Fr. Stepek’s status be restored, despite the credible accusations against him.
We believe that local Catholic officials ignored and enabled Fr. Stepek's crimes and then compounded their callous actions by ignoring and tolerating his hardball legal tactics.
We call on Archbishop Cupich to spread the word of Fr. Stepek’s death through church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements and beg others who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to come forward.
Once again, Catholic officials are staying silent about a predator. Once again, the feelings of his victims are disregarded while the comfort of church officials are protected. The people Fr. Stepek violated deserve to know that he can no longer hurt anyone.
We hope Fr. Stepek’s passing will bring some comfort to those he assaulted and will prompt others he hurt to finally get help, speak out and start healing.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
Finally, our hearts go out to the brave men who found the strength to publicly discuss their abuse by Fr. Stepek and file suits against him. Their courageous action warned tens of thousands of parents and parishoners to keep their kids away from this predator.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 22,000 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)