IL - Chicago Catholic officials challenged on 2 predators
For immediate release: Thursday, January 16, 2014
We are here today to warn the public about one child molesting cleric and nine complicit church officials.
First, Brother Damien Chong.
We don’t know a great deal about the allegations against Br. Chong. But they were revealed and posted on line by Los Angeles Catholic officials, along with credible allegations against dozens of other child molesting clerics – archdiocesan and religious order clerics – most of whom faced civil abuse and cover up lawsuits that settled.
We were surprised to learn that, despite this, his Catholic supervisors are keeping him on the job. And we feel duty bound to warn Chicago area parents, parishioners and the public about him, since he spent a decade here and still walks free. (For all we know, he could have spent the Christmas holidays with Chicagoland parents he befriended during his time here in the 1990s. And he could have molested their kids just last month.)
Catholic officials, here and in California and in Massachusetts, should announce the allegations against Chong , remove him from ministry, and aggressively seek out others he has hurt.
Second, the Jesuits.
Brave victims of Fr. Donald McGuire (in Chicago and elsewhere), a prominent convicted serial child molester, sought justice and demanded disclosure. Because of their courage, hundreds of pages of long-secret church records about the crimes by McGuire and the deceit by his colleagues are available at BisohpAccoutnabillity.org
We read all of them. They implicate dozens of Catholic employees who ignored or concealed crimes or warning signs of crimes by McGuire. (We suspect that some archdiocesan staff also ignored or concealed crimes or warning signs of crimes by McGuire.)
As best we can tell, none of those Jesuits has been disciplined or denounced, either by his Jesuit supervisor or any archdiocesan supervisor.
And that’s why clergy sex crimes keep happening – because no one who enabled the crimes is ever punished.
We in SNAP can’t punish them. But we can sometimes expose them. And that’s what we’re doing today. We are naming what we believe to be the nine most irresponsible Jesuit officials
So today, we call on Chicago Catholic officials to at a bare minimum publicly criticize these men for their selfish, reckless choices.
These are well-educated men. They didn’t make ‘mistakes.’ They choose secrecy over transparency. They protected themselves and not tier flocks. They protected one powerful wrongdoers and endangered many innocent kids. And kids were hurt – even devastated – because of their actions and inaction.
Yet virtually not one of them has ever been punished, by the justice system or by church officials.
Finally, Cardinal George.
Cardinal George can split hairs and deny responsibility and ignore Chong – like he did with McGuire. Or he can do what we’re doing – much more effectively – and alert Catholics and citizens about Chong.
This is always the right course of action. But it’s even more critical when a credibly accused child molesting cleric is still on the job and has been moved – at least twice – to other communities.
It’s possible, if George were to mount a real outreach campaign, that Chong might face criminal charges and be kept away from kids for years. But that would require a level of compassion and courage we have yet to see from any Chicago Catholic official.
Cardinal George can also pass the buck to the Jesuits and deny responsibility and ignore these nine clerics and their severe misconduct. Or he can chart a new course, act more responsibly, and denounce them and urge the Jesuits to discipline them (or even just one of them). By doing this, George could send a strong signal to religious order clerics who commit or conceal child sex crimes in his archdiocese.
He’s near retirement. He clearly cares about his legacy. So he might just be able to summon the courage and compassion to do this.
If not, Cardinal George should discipline and denounce clerics who are on his own payroll who are implicated in the 6,000 pages of long secret church records that will be made public. If he does, that will be a sign of progress. If he doesn’t, it will be a sign that nothing’s changing in the church hierarchy.
No matter what Cardinal George does – or other Chicago area Catholic clerics do – we urge Chicago Catholics and citizens to ask their loved ones about Chong, McGuire and other proven, admitted and credibly accused church personnel. We beg them to ignore the Cardinal’s spin, read the records, take note of the “enablers” and insist that the church hierarchy punish these men so that future clergy sex crimes and cover ups can be prevented.