IL--Chicago Archdiocese falsely brags of being better on abuse
For immediate release: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015
In a shrewd public relations move, Chicago Catholic officials are claiming they dealt with clergy sex crimes and cover ups better than their Boston colleagues did years ago. They’re wrong.
It was the Chicago archdiocese, not the Boston archdiocese, that was blasted on Sixty Minutes and on page one of the Wall Street Journal in the early 1990s for hardball legal tactics designed to intimidate and silence clergy sex abuse victims.
Abuse and cover ups were, and are, handled largely the same in Boston and Chicago, back then and even now. For two key reasons, a tiny bit of the corruption was unearthed slightly sooner in Chicago.
First, our support groups began meeting in Chicago in 1989. So a few brave but wounded souls began speaking out in Chicago before they did in Boston.
Second, victims in Illinois were not as severely hampered by a $20,000 charitable immunity cap like victims in Massachusetts were. (So attorneys in Illinois could credibly tell church officials “We’ll see you in court.” Attorneys in Massachusetts could not. So a fraction of abuse was disclosed in Illinois while almost none was disclosed in Massachusetts.)
Like most Catholic officials across the US, Archbishop Blasé Cupich and his public relations team disingenuously claim that Chicago had one of the “earliest” church abuse policies.
That’s only because brave victims and mounting lawsuits forced then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. And it’s because Bernardin spent (like Cupich spends) generously on public relations advisers and was smart enough to listen to them.
And church officials in Chicago, Boston and elsewhere continue to honor their carefully-crafted abuse “policies” largely when forced to do so by external pressure from victims, police, prosecutors and attorneys.
(We’re reminded of that old adage “There’s only one most beautiful baby in the world and every mother has it.”)
Think Chicago and Boston Catholic officials are somehow different? Please read this:
In both Chicago and Boston – and every diocese and religious order – victims, witnesses and whistleblowers should play it safe and do their civic duty. They should call secular officials, not church officials. That’s also their moral duty. And that’s the way to expose predators, deter cover ups and protect kids.
(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 20,000 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)
Archdiocese defends record as film about Boston priest abuse nears release
Written By Mitch Dudek Posted: 10/21/2015, 02:00pm
In an unprecedented public relations maneuver, top Chicago Archdiocese officials met with several newspapers this week — days before the big screen release of a star-studded Hollywood drama depicting the Boston Globe’s 2002 expose on clergy sex abuse — to say, basically: “Don’t confuse us with Boston.”
Vicar General Ronald Hicks, second-in-command to Archbishop Blase Cupich, explained the proactive stance to the Sun-Times’ editorial board earlier this week.
“We think there’s a possibility that there’s going to be new energy and new questions around this and what we want to do is make sure that the media knows that Chicago is extremely different in handling the case of clerical sexual abuse of minors than Boston and how it’s being portrayed in the movie.”
Actors Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo play the journalists behind the Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories that shook the world in 2002, and ultimately encouraged a large number of victims in other cities, including Chicago, to come forth with their own tales of abuse, setting off a global crisis for the church.
The film, “Spotlight,” debuts locally at the Chicago Film Festival Oct. 29 and is scheduled for wider release Nov. 6.
Hicks called the scandals . . .