For immediate release: Sunday, November 9
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
They want him to step down as head of America’s bishops
Their chief concern: He’s got a convicted friend on his payroll
Just last month, pedophile’s presence in Chicago was revealed
Criminal keeps getting paid even though George promised “he won’t be working here”
Group is also outraged that Cardinal recently tried to get another convicted predator out of jail.
Because of recent disclosures about “several pedophile priests and corrupt supervisors” in his archdiocese, clergy sex abuse victims are asking Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George to resign as head of the US bishops’ conference. The request comes on the eve of the annual meeting of America’s 200+ bishops in Baltimore.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) are urging George to step down “for the good of the church, both locally and nationally” because of “several new child sex crime and cover ups,” including one involving Fr. Kenneth J. Martin, a personal friend of the Cardinal’s.
####“George is deceptively and recklessly letting a convicted predator priest pal work for and in the archdiocese, violating his specific, public promise to the contrary and the church’s national sex abuse policy,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP’s founder and president. “Short of making this predator a pastor, it’s hard to imagine a more dangerous and deceitful move George could make.”
Last month, Chicago news media disclosed that Martin was still working for an archdiocesan agency with offices next to a Catholic school. In 2003, news accounts revealed that Martin was living in the Cardinal’s mansion and working for the archdiocese on a part time basis. Just two years before, Martin was convicted of molesting a boy in Baltimore for three years.
After Martin’s presence in Chicago was first disclosed in 2003, George publicly said “he won’t be working here anymore.” He has apparently remained on the archdiocesan payroll ever since, SNAP says.
But SNAP’s concern goes beyond the Martin case. The group cites cases involving 5 priests that have surfaced over the past year. Some are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters (Fr. Kenneth Martin, Fr. Joseph Bennett, Fr. Norbert Maday). Others ignored or concealed abuse, according to SNAP and church records, “complicit” (Fr. Leonard Dubi and Fr. Edward Grace).
The disclosures about Bennett, Dubi, Maday and Grace came through civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits that were settled in August 2008.
“Time and time again, even now, George is dishonest about child sex crimes,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s national director. “He keeps knowingly favoring friends and predators over kids and Catholics, to the point of taking extraordinarily obvious and inexcusable risks even with proven pedophiles.”
In 2006, SNAP and several other group's urged George to resign as head of the Chicago Archdiocese over his mishandling of the Fr. Daniel McCormack case. George promoted McCormack in 2005 even after he was arrested and kept McCormack in a parish even after the archdiocesan abuse review panel urged George to suspend him. In 2006, McCormack was arrested again for child molestation. Prosecutors said he’d abused one boy on “an almost daily basis” during those months George kept him in active parish ministry.
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by fax and e mail, is below:
Nov. 9, 2008
Dear Cardinal George:
In 2006, our organization asked you to resign as head of the Chicago archdiocese, because of your reckless and deceptive mishandling of the Fr. McCormack’s child sex crimes.
Now, our organization is asking you to resign as head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, because of several new similar cases of your recklessness and deception over just the last year. Among these are disclosures about
-- your letting a convicted pedophile priest still work in your archdiocese (Fr. Kenneth J. Martin)
-- your refusal for years to suspend a credibly accused predator facing more than 12 abuse allegations (Fr. Joseph Bennett)
-- your trying to get a convicted pedophile priest released early from prison (Fr. Norbert Maday)
-- the two instances in which you ignored requests of your own lay abuse panel (the Bennett case)
-- your tolerating the complicit high-ranking chancery office priest who advised an accused predator on how to deceive a church review panel (Fr. Edward Grace)
-- your naming an accused predator’s friend (Fr. Edward Dubi) to allegedly ‘monitor’ him, despite clear pleas by your own abuse review panel to name anyone else for that role
-- your tolerating the egregious misconduct by a predator’s friend who shoved a person for simply asking questions about the predator (Fr. Edward Dubi).
Let’s look at these situations a little more closely.
----- The Fr. Kenneth J. Martin case
In 2003, you let a convicted child molesting priest, Fr. Kenneth J. Martin, work in your archdiocese. You also let him live in your mansion for a week each month. You told no one, even though six months earlier, you pledged to be “open and transparent’ about abuse.
Then, news accounts disclosed Martin’s presence and role in your archdiocese. In response, your staff split hairs, emphasizing that Martin abused as a seminarian, not a priest, so might not be ‘covered’ by the church’s sex abuse policies.
Still, under considerable public pressure, you told a reporter Martin "won't be coming back to Chicago."
Last month, however, news accounts disclosed that this convicted predator is on your payroll even now.
He apparently has been working continuously for you, despite your public promise to the contrary.
His office is next door to a parochial elementary school.
Initially, your public relations professional claimed Martin had “visited” that Chicago office only twice in 2008."
Later, your public relations professional then changed the story, admitting that Martin came to the office at least seven times in 2007-2008.
Regardless, no matter how you try to ‘spin’ this, you are continuing to take extraordinary risks by keeping your friend, a proven pedophile, in your archdiocese, next to school kids, and on your payroll.
-------- The Fr. Joseph R. Bennett case
-- In August 2008, newly release secret church records and Cardinal your own sworn deposition show that you suspended an accused serial predator priest, Fr. Bennett, from his suburban parish in 2006 only after at least a dozen of his victims had reported him to your staff.
-- Those same documents show that you overruled the recommendations of your own hand-picked abuse panel and had him alleged and secretly (but ineffectively) ‘monitored’ by a fellow priest, Fr. Leonard Dubi, who is a close friend of Bennett’s. The two of them own property together in Indiana. They then took a trip to Mexico together.
-- Your hand-picked abuse panel specifically, in two memos, urged you to NOT assign Dubi to this role. You rejected their recommendation.
-- In the same documents, Fr. Edward Grace, the archdiocese’s Vicar for Priests. Grace, urged Bennett to essentially lie about birthmarks on his genitals to ‘beat’ multiple child sex abuse allegations before a lay church panel. We’ve asked you to discipline these ‘enablers’ – Dubi and Grace - whose deceit put kids in harm’s way. You have ignored us.
-- We fear other accused child-molesting clergy are in still Chicago parishes right now, unbeknownst to parishioners, allegedly being ‘monitored’ by peers. We’ve asked you to disclose who and where they are and/or abide by the church’s national abuse policy and publicly suspend them. You have ignored us.
--------- The Fr. Norbert Maday case
-- The same deposition and documents also reveal that you and your top staffers spent considerable time and effort secretly trying to win the early release of a convicted serial child predator, Fr. Norbert Maday, who is in a Wisconsin prison.
-- We suspect and fear there are or have been other jailed sex offender clerics who have gotten or are getting your ‘behind the scenes’ help. We have asked you to stop it immediately, and to disclose if you’ve taken similar reckless action with other pedophiles. You have ignored us.
--Last month, we publicly called on you to promise you’d never again try to get a convicted pedophile priest out of jail early. You have not responded.
Again, this has all come out in the public arena in just the last year. We can’t help but wonder, of course, what other shocking and irresponsible actions you have taken recently that remain hidden.
Sadly, however, these recent cases are just more in a long line of irresponsible, deceptive and insensitive steps you’ve taken regarding clergy sex crimes and cover ups. They are part of a much larger, on-going, and disturbing pattern in the Chicago archdiocese, a pattern that goes back farther than just the last year, and that has changed little (if at all) since you promised to ‘reform’ in 2002. Here are just four examples.
----- The Fr. John Calicott case
In March 2004, twice-suspended abusive priest Fr. John Calicott was caught working, living and teaching sex education to kids at his old parish, with the full knowledge of the pastor. You slapped Calicott on the wrist, but refused to discipline or censure the pastor, Fr. George Miller, who knowingly put children in harm's way and violated the US bishops' national abuse policy.
----- The Fr. Michael Yakaitis case
In February 2005, Fr. Michael T. Yakaitis worked at the University of Chicago's Catholic Center, despite admitting sexual misconduct with a teenager years ago. A victim reported Yakaitis' exploitation and manipulation to at least seven church officials. But you let the abuser stay in ministry until this was publicly exposed.
----- The Fr. Elijah Martin case
In October 2005, you refused to discipline Father Elijah Martin or warn others about him. He seduced a young woman, fathered her child, ignored her, and refused to pay child support. Martin’s direct superiors also refused to give the mom any information about the priest’s whereabouts. You washed your hands of this controversy, despite repeated requests by our group to help the family and warn others about Martin.
----- The Fr. Daniel McCormack case
-- In the fall of 2005, McCormack was arrested for child molestation. Weeks later, you promoted him to head a deanery, or region, of the archdiocese.
-- In January 2006, McCormack was arrested again. He assaulted one 11 year old boy "on an almost daily basis" from Sept. 2005 until Jan. 2006. You kept him in ministry years after several reports of child sexual abuse, including repeated written and verbal ones from a Catholic nun more than seven years earlier to archdiocesan staff. You kept him in ministry months after your own hand-picked abuse panel urged you to suspend him.
-- We repeatedly urged you to “aggressively and immediately” reach out to parishes where McCormack worked, and prodded you to personally start visit those churches, emphatically reminding Catholics that they have a moral and civic duty to disclose anything they know about these allegations to law enforcement. You ignored us.
-- For months awaiting trial, you let McCormack live with relatives, refusing to order him to stay in a treatment center for pedophiles. We were highly critical of that move, calling it ‘reckless;’ and ‘irresponsible.’ We repeatedly urged you to reconsider. You ignored us.
-- Five top church staff who were involved in the McCormack debacle have all essentially been promoted since then. Only one has been disciplined – the female school principal who actually called the police and reported McCormack’s crimes.
It bears repeating that almost all of these reckless, inexcusable actions (and inactions) have happened AFTER you and your colleagues pledged, in 2002, to reform your dealings with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
The bottom line: you continue to put your own reputation and comfort above the safety and well-being of your flock.
Why does this matter? Because when the head of America’s bishops acts so irresponsibly, it encourages other bishops to follow suit. It also discourages victims and witnesses from coming forward, reporting crimes and exposing predators. Finally, it rubs more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of Catholics and victims who are still struggling with the pain and betrayal caused by the church’s on-going sex abuse and cover up crisis.
Less than a year ago, Pope Benedict, speaking to a group of bishops about the abuse scandal, said “… it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.” You have clearly, during the last year, and for several years, done largely the opposite.
In light of all this, we respectfully but firmly as that you step down as head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, so that victims and Catholics will be assured, at least sometimes, that reckless, secrecy and deceit involving clergy child sex crimes will no longer be tolerated by the church hierarchy.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 6416
Chicago IL 60680
312 399 4747
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688