IL--Did 6 Chicago predator priests go to Springfield?
For immediate release: Thursday, March 5
Six Chicago predator priests, who were ousted from local parishes in the 1990s, may have spent time in the Springfield are, we have learned.
During one year – 1993 - all six Chicago predator priests were mysteriously listed in the Official Catholic Directory as having the same Springfield area phone number. Internet searches show that the phone – 217 324 4192 - is a land line in Litchfield, in the Springfield diocese. (The only Catholic facility in Litchfield is Holy Family parish.)
As best we can tell, neither Chicago or Springfield Catholic officials have told anyone about these six possibly being in Springfield. (All six have been deemed “credibly accused” by archdiocesan officials.)
It could be that there’s a simple explanation for this very unusual listing. If so, Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Chicago Archbishop Blasé Cupich should provide it. Otherwise, Springfield area Catholics will be left to wonder if their kids were around dangerous Chicago clerics. And Chicago area Catholics will be left to wonder if local predators were secretly or quietly sent out of town and if so, whether this reckless practice continues today.
If one or more of these predators were in Springfield, he or they may well have assaulted a Springfield boyr or girl. If so, that child, or those children are now adults and are likely still suffering. And if so, Archbishop Cupich and Bishop Paprocki have a moral duty to aggressively reach out to them.
Just to be clear: We suspect – but don’t know for sure – that at least one or more of the six priests spent time in the Springfield area. (If not, how can the 217 phone number be explained?)
If so, it’s possible other Chicago child molesting clerics were sent elsewhere too (maybe Springfield, maybe another city). Is that happening now?
We beg Cupich and Paprocki to clear this up. We beg them to honor their repeated pledges of “openness and transparency” by giving Catholics and citizens this information.
Until they do, we hope other current and former church staff and members – in both Springfield and Chicago – will find the courage to share what they know about out-of-town predator priests who were sent elsewhere (either publicly or privately). We hope Springfield parents will ask their children if any of them spent any time with or near these Chicago predators. And we hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes – by these six, in Chicago or Springfield – will find the strength to speak up, get help and start healing.
The six priests are Fr. David F. Braun, Fr. Eugene P. Burns, Fr. William J. Cloutier, Fr. Norbert J. Maday, Fr. Robert E. Mayer and Fr. Kenneth C. Ruge.
Here’s what largely DOES NOT matter:
How long the predators may have been in Springfield.
Where they lived or worked in Springfield.
Whether they had permission to do ministry in Springfield.
What title or role, if any, they had or didn’t have in Springfield.
Whether they’re now alive or dead, or defrocked or not defrocked.
Here’s what really DOES matter:
It take only seconds for a predator to shove his tongue in a girl’s mouth.
It takes only seconds for a predator to push his hands in a boy’s pants.
It’s had life-long effects on a child if even one of these priests assaulted him or her here.
It’s the official national church policy that bishops are to be “transparent” about clergy abuse.
It’s clear that Paprocki, Cupich and other Catholic employees are not really doing this.
It’s what parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public need and deserve, if kids are to be safer, if victims are to heal, and if crimes and cover ups are to be prevented in the future.
It’s crucial that anyone with information or suspicions about these six should speak up.
And it’s crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers seek independent help by calling therapists, police, prosecutors, loved ones or support groups like ours.
It’s crucial to call the independent, unbiased professionals in law enforcement, not the self-serving biased church bureaucrats.
(We believe Fr. Maday and Fr. Mayer are alive, but are not sure. Fr. Cloutier, Fr. Burns, Fr. Braun, Fr. Martinez and Fr. Fitzgerald are deceased.)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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)