The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement


Sex abuse victims respond to silly Chicago archdiocesan report

For immediate release:
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, National President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)

When are we going to learn that the fox can't guard the chickens. Even when the fox says "This time, I mean it." Church officials can't police themselves. That's why we need brave victims, determined prosecutors and better state laws.

"Restructuring," "streamlining," "checklists," "work flow charts" - does anyone really think these are the root causes of horrific, repeated clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Archdiocese of Chicago?

Remember who we're dealing with here.

Cardinal George, who days after the 2002 US bishops conference meeting in Dallas, and promptly, publicly minimized the harm done to GIRLS who are abused.

Cardinal George, who six months after the 2002 US bishops conference meeting in Dallas, let a convicted Delaware predator priest live with him in his mansion and work in the Chicago archdiocese, claiming "the zero tolerance policy only covers priest, and this man molested when he was a seminarian."

Cardinal George, who won't order Fr. McCormack into a treatment center, but instead quietly lets him live in a secret location with relatives.

Cardinal George, who won't put Fr. McCormack on his list of credibly accused priests, despite repeated allegations - in criminal cases, in civil cases, in his own personnel files.
McCormack kept sexually assaulting kids for one simple reason: because church officials let him.

Church officials let him for one simple reason: there's a deeply entrenched, unhealthy culture of secrecy and self-preservation within the Chicago archdiocese.

One sentence in this silly report deserves mention: "There must be accountability for non-compliance."

Hoping for "accountability for non-compliance" in this archdiocese is ludicrous. It hasn't happened, isn't happening, and won't happen unless the structures change.

Consider the awful case of Fr. Robert Miller. He's not a child molester. He's a pastor.
His predecessor, Fr. John Calicott, is a molester. Calicott was suspended by two archbishops. He faced several accusers.

Yet, after being suspended, Calicott returned to his old parish, spent the night there four times a week, and taught sex education to kids. A local journalist discovered and exposed this.

Calicott directly, clearly and egregiously ignored the Cardinal's orders. Yet he was never punished for it.

Worse, Father Robert Miller directly, clearly and egregiously ignored the Cardinal's orders. Yet he was never punished for it.

The reason child sex abuse still happens in the archdiocese, and the reason it's still covered up, is simple: no one ever loses even one day's pay for endangering kids or helping predators. No one. Ever.

A few other specific points about the recommendations themselves:

-- To get a good flavor of the kinds of so-called reforms George is touting here, notice two of them on page one of Jimmy Lago's letter. They are name changes. That's right: name changes. One panel and one position now have different titles. This will protect kids? Get real.

-- The distinction between 'younger' and 'older' predators is silly. It flies in the face of history, psychology, and common sense. There's no magic age at which a child molester is magically cured. In fact, with age, most abusers just get better at getting access, intimidating victims, better at threatening witnesses, destroying evidence, making excuses, and at picking kids who won't speak up or be believed. At the same time, because they move slowly, are balding, wear thick glasses, and walk slowly, parents are more trusting of older molesters. The only prudent course is to assume that serial predators are almost always potentially dangerous.

-- The notion that "compliance is voluntary" regarding living restrictions on predator priests is silly. That's baloney. The church is a monarchy. The Cardinal is the king. Priests are essentially serfs. They have no union and no real job protections or security. (Honest ones will acknowledge this.)

So to ensure 'compliance,' the Cardinal can simply threaten to stop a predator-priest's paychecks, health insurance, dental coverage, housing allowance, and other financial support. It's simple. The Cardinal tells a child-molesting cleric "You can live at a remote, secure treatment center and abide by its rules, or you won't get a penny from the archdiocese. Furthermore, I'll personally visit each parish where you worked, and emphatically, repeatedly, and publicly beg anyone with information about your sex crimes - whether victim or witness - to come forward. You'll face more lawsuits, more publicity, and perhaps even criminal prosecution, if you've molested kids recently enough."

(He won't do this, however, because he fears that abusive priests, if pushed, may turn on church officials, and disclose to police, prosecutors, and the public what they know about other abusive clergy and complicit bishops.)

Cardinal George has no lack of policies and procedures and panels. He has a lack of courage. Cardinal George simply lacks the spine to do what's right.

It takes guts to tell McCormack "Get to that treatment center or there'll be hell to pay." It takes guts to say to a church staffer "You stayed silent about McCormack's crimes, so you're fired." But the Cardinal hasn't and won't take these simple steps. Instead, he'll shell out more for public relations, hunker down, let this pass, and pull out the same recipe - a blue ribbon committee to make more recommendations - the next time he's caught trying to cover up abuse.

David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home)
Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747),
Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688),
Mary Grant (626-419-2930),
Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests