The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Abuse in Chicago Archdiocese


February 3, 2006

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director
314 503 0003

Last week, we learned about three more alleged abusive Chicago priests.

The Cardinal didn't tell us.

His assistant bishops didn't tell us.

His PR man didn't tell us.

His so-called Victims Assistance Coordinator didn't tell us.

His so-called Lay Review Board didn't tell us.

His dozens and dozens of chancery office staff didn't tell us.

His hundreds and hundreds of priests didn't tell us.

We learned about these accused child molesters because of brave victims, good cops, and a caring lay person.

Victims spoke up about Fr. Joseph Bennett.

Police arrested Fr. Dan McCormack.

A Catholic lay women "outed" Monsignor Dominic Diederich.

Only after these caring individuals took action did Cardinal George do something.

All of these men were accused years ago. But the Cardinal didn't warn his flock. The Cardinal kept quiet, again.

The same old, same old.

Something must change.

We believe that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We also believe that those who don't discipline wrong-doers, encourage wrong-doers.

We know church officials will accuse us of being angry and vindictive.

But everyone knows that when there are no consequences for recklessness, recklessness continues.

So for the safety of kids, for the healing of victims, and for the good of the church, we believe two things must happen:

First, Cardinal George must be disciplined, and second, members of his staff must be disciplined.

Tweaking a so-called policy and offering a so-called apology changes nothing. Those have been done time and time and time again.

Action protects kids, not apologies.

People protect kids, not policies.

In government, in the business world, in the military, in other non-profits, irresponsible behavior that leads to the rape of children is not tolerated.

But in the Chicago archdiocese, it IS tolerated, because nothing happens to anyone who acts recklessly and causes kids to be sodomized.

That much change.

A few adults' heads must roll, or else many kids' psyches may be shattered.

A few older egos must be bruised, or else many younger psyches may be scarred.

A few grown ups should be fired, or else many children will be vulnerable.

If non-pedophiles on the church payroll ignore or help or cover up for pedophiles, they should face consequences.

Let's get specific.

The buck stops with Cardinal George. Ultimately, he should be disciplined for the fact that innocent kids were needlessly put at risk and likely repeatedly molested on his watch because he prefers secrecy to openness and he cares more about his reputation than his flock.

We call on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, headed by Bishop William Skylstad, to do this.

And we call on National Review Board, headed by Dr. Patricia Ewers, to do this.

In 2002, bishops pledged to hold one another accountable on sex abuse cases. Bishops must have the courage to speak out against wrong-doing by other bishops. The secrecy of the old boys' network must end.

The Review Board was allegedly to be a "watchdog' over the bishops. Frankly, it's become a "lap dog."

If it is to have any credibility or effectiveness, we believe its members must censure Cardinal George for his continued recklessness and cowardice.

The Review Board allegedly oversees compliance with the bishops' national sex abuse policy. Cardinal George has violated that policy and allegedly made up his own policy ' priests secretly monitoring accused pedophile priests. He must be held accountable for this violation.

In addition, several church staffers might be sanctioned:

-- the Catholic schools officials to who apparently did nothing after a nun reported suspected abuse six years ago

-- the Catholic school administrator who told her "If the parents aren't pushing it, let it go."

-- the top chancery office staff who proposed secretly appointing priests to "monitor" alleged molesters.

-- the alleged "monitors" themselves

-- the staff who are responsible for the two year delay in suspending Fr. Joseph Bennett

Finally, if neither the National Review Board nor the Bishops Conference finds the backbone to speak up, Cardinal George should discipline himself.

No one relishes the idea of someone being fired, or being suspended, or being disciplined. No one wants to see another person suffer.

But we're convinced that some adult must endure consequences or else kids will keep enduring abuse.

It's just that simple.

And until some adult endures consequences, all of Cardinal George's words ring hollow. He can shout "zero tolerance' at the top of his lungs. But if he insists on "all carrot and no stick," abuse will keep happening and being hidden in his archdiocese.

Some 800 pedophile priests have been suspended because of proven, admitted or credible abuse charges.

Several bishops have stepped down because of proven, admitted or credible abuse charges.

One bishop has resigned because he covered up proven, admitted or credible abuse charges.

But no one in the Chicago archdiocese has ever lost a day's pay because of this horrific scandal.

Cardinal George may say "The problem is our policy."

And of course every policy can always be improved. But this policy is irrelevant. Cardinal George isn't following the national policy. Why would he follow his own policy?

Cardinal George may say "We're a forgiving church."

Of course he's right. But forgiveness is a private choice. Disciplining child rape is a public act.

Forgiving someone helps us heal. Disciplining someone helps safeguard kids.

The two aren't mutually exclusive. And they shouldn't be confused.

Cardinal George may say, "I won't blame others."

First, he already has. Second, it's not about blame. It's about preventing child rape. By definition, that means someone is disciplined when preventable rape happens.

The bottom line: kids need action, not words. They need up-front protection, not afterwards apologies.




Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests