WBEZ | Mundelein Seminary http://www.wbez.org/tags/mundelein-seminary Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en At U.S. seminaries, a rise in millennials answering God's call http://www.wbez.org/news/us-seminaries-rise-millennials-answering-gods-call-113051 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/millennials answering God&#039;s call.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Seminarians attend a theology class at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/usml-promo_custom-538bff9194b6d1d6ad72ce1cb63b75f98039ea9e-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 600px;" title="Seminarians attend a theology class at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. (Courtesy of Mundelein Seminary)" /></div><div><p>When Pope Francis meets with American bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, seminarian Stefan Megyery will participate in the midday prayer service.</p></div></div><p>He can hardly contain his excitement.</p><p>&quot;How often do you get the chance to meet the pope?&quot; Megyery says.</p><p>A few short years ago, the 34-year-old would have been about the same age as most of his classmates at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theologicalcollege.org/">Theological College</a>, the seminary of The Catholic University Of America, where he is studying to become a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington. But no longer.</p><p>&quot;The majority of our seminarians are in their mid- to late 20s, whereas when I started out they would have been in their early to mid-30s &mdash; and a number older, much older,&quot; says the Rev. Phillip Brown, rector of Theological College since 2011 who&#39;s also served on the faculty and staff of theological institutions for more than a decade.</p><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/seminary-20150921/child.html">&nbsp;</p><p>That trend is being reflected at Catholic seminaries across the U.S. Though the overall number of priests-in-training remains small, the declining age of seminarians is welcome news for a church whose population is rapidly aging in the U.S. and which faces a critical shortage of priests. Observers say it may signal the beginning of a period of renewal.</p><p><strong>The Faithful Amid A Sea Of Religious &#39;Nones&#39;</strong></p><p>Of the more than 3,000 men in seminary now, the percentage of those 34 or younger has risen to more than 75 percent, according to data from the&nbsp;<a href="http://cara.georgetown.edu/">Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate</a>&nbsp;at Georgetown University. From 2000 to 2005, that figure hovered around 65 percent. The greatest growth has been among 25- to 29-year-olds.</p><p>That&#39;s all the more notable because the general religious climate in the country wouldn&#39;t suggest it. Among fellow millennials &mdash; those born after 1980 &mdash; the number who identify as Catholic has dipped from 22 percent in 2007 to 16 percent last year, the<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/">Pew Research Center reported earlier this year</a>. During the same period, those who say they&#39;re religiously unaffiliated &mdash; known also as the religious &quot;nones&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/13/a-closer-look-at-americas-rapidly-growing-religious-nones/">rose 10 percentage points to 35 percent</a>.</p><p>But an overwhelmingly secular society and religious ambivalence among their peers may actually help bring clarity to those contemplating entering the priesthood.</p><p>&quot;When a society gets open, more liberal, more individualistic, it&#39;s harder maybe to make this decision, OK, I want to be a priest, because you have so many other choices and alternatives,&quot; says seminarian Megyery, who grew up in Berlin.</p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Seminarians greet each other outside Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-01_custom-55a38c98b091498f3cc07d374f71524d8394f52a-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 403px; width: 600px;" title="Seminarians greet each other outside Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (Ed Pfueller/Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>In the 1950s and &#39;60s, he says, entering religious life &mdash; as a priest or nun &mdash; was a viable and common profession for Catholics.</p></div></div><p>&quot;Nowadays it&#39;s much harder. ... You have to defend your decision in front of the world,&quot; he says. &quot;When you talk to your friends and they don&#39;t understand it, and you have to explain this, sometimes it can be hard. You must be very sure, you must be very steadfast and devout and trust in the Lord.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s particularly true given the still-raw wounds of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/10/413387725/vatican-establishes-tribunal-to-investigate-bishops-in-abuse-cases">clerical sex abuse scandal</a>&nbsp;and the more rigorous vetting process U.S. seminaries implemented in its wake, which includes criminal background checks, a battery of psychological and physical exams and extensive personal interviews.</p><p><strong>A Search For Meaning, Service To Others</strong></p><p>The Rev. Thomas Baima is vice rector for academic affairs at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., and dean of&nbsp;<a href="http://usml.edu/">the school&#39;s seminary</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the largest in the United States. In order to begin to understand the roots of the change, Baima says it&#39;s necessary to examine millennials&#39; culture and their traits as a generation.</p><p>&quot;It seems the millennials are very much interested in lives of meaning and purpose, they want to do things that have some significance,&quot; Baima says. &quot;So success for them is in some ways being redefined. ... That seems to translate into a set of career choices earlier in their 20s, which somehow relate to finding meaning and purpose. &quot;</p><p>Tom Lawrence, a first-year student of pre-theology at Theological College, says that yearning for meaning came for him as a desire to make his life a function of the lives of others.</p><p>&quot;It means removing the focus of my life from myself to be the Other,&quot; explains Lawrence, of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s this desire, through creating obligations for myself, for doing this or that or the other, of focusing on how do I help others. It&#39;s not an active thought,&quot; he says. &quot;And this escalated: How can I spend more time doing something for someone else rather than doing something for myself? ... So that again kept chipping away.</p><p>&quot;The only way you can describe it, I think, is a peace,&quot; says Lawrence, who notes that at times he felt more involved in the church than connected to it, even as he was tasked with the religious education of others. &quot;Where instead of being anxious in a moment, or being concerned about, well, what&#39;s going to happen to me, or ... am I going to be embarrassed, or what will my family think, it becomes a question of I&#39;m justified in the sense that in this moment, I can benefit someone else instead of myself, and that&#39;s a more noble, or more useful, goal.&quot;</p><p><strong>A Yearning For Beauty And Ritual</strong></p><p>Baima, the vice rector at Mundelein, also argues that other aspects of contemporary society &mdash; its pace, the use of technology, the emphasis on visuals &mdash; may also play a role in explaining the demographic shift underway.</p><p>&quot;Perhaps a form of worship that stresses beauty and the majesty of God ... is filling a contemporary need that we might not be recognizing,&quot; he says. &quot;Is the fact that it&#39;s a more visual experience simply lining up with a generation with whom visual communication is far more important because of technology&#39;s changes?</p><p>&quot;Is it because more traditional worship provides more quiet and reflective experiences in an age when information just crashes over them like waves?&quot; Baima asks. &quot;These are only hypotheses, but it&#39;s a question.&quot;</p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="New seminarians take part in their first Morning of Recollection at Theological College in August." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-02_custom-18805471e4382efda7e1e9fabe51269a174b49e9-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 431px; width: 600px;" title="New seminarians take part in their first Morning of Recollection at Theological College in August. (Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>Exposure to the physical beauty of Catholic traditions was a powerful draw for Josh Gray, a third-year theologian at Mundelein. Home-schooled on his family&#39;s farm in the small town of Early, Texas, the 24-year-old attended daily Mass with his mother from the time he was a baby through high school.</p></div></div><p>&quot;With all this exposure to the Eucharist, to Mass, to Catholic teachings, I guess I couldn&#39;t help but say, &#39;Wow, I want to be a part of this, this amazing mystery, this beautiful, wonderful celebration,&quot; he recalls. &quot;So in this atmosphere of going to church, of learning more about the faith, I just felt drawn toward it.&quot;</p><p><strong>Strong Faith, Weak Religious Foundation</strong></p><p>But Baima says his observations suggest this is hardly the rule. In fact, he says that many of the millennials entering seminary now were brought up Catholic&nbsp;but did not have what he terms a &quot;densely&quot; Catholic experience.</p><p>That was the case with Nelson Cintra, a 29-year-old at Mundelein. Despite the fact that his mother was very pious and he attended Mass regularly with her, the second-year pre-theologian says he did not receive a strong Catholic formation growing up in Ohio.</p><p>&quot;I did learn about our Sunday obligation, and Our Father and Hail Mary. From first through seventh grade, I went to Catholic school, learned what you learn in religious education class,&quot; he says. &quot;I learned what (the Catholic faith) looked like on the outside, but I didn&#39;t learn what it meant to have a heart that was attached to the heart of Christ.&quot;</p><p>As a result, Cintra and many other men of his generation experienced their spiritual awakening as adults &mdash; for many, at college. To Baima, that makes sense.</p><p>&quot;If one is on a campus where moral relativism is holding sway, and they&#39;re looking at their college classmates, who they care about, getting hurt by a lack of an ethical clarity in their life, you can see where they would look for alternatives,&quot; says Baima, whose observations draw on 15 years working in various posts at the university.</p><p><strong>On Campuses, Spiritual Challenge And Community</strong></p><p>It was at college at Indiana University that Radley Alcantara first started feeling &quot;a tug on (his) heart from God.&quot; Until then, he says, his goals were to go into the business world and &quot;make a lot of money.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I was raised Catholic, I liked being Catholic, but I didn&#39;t have a deep understanding of what that meant, what that looked like,&quot; says Alcantara, who is 27 now and a third-year theologian at Mundelein. &quot;So entering college, I did the typical college stuff, you know, going to parties and drinking.&quot;</p><p>But even as Alcantara was &quot;partying hard,&quot; he&#39;d still go to Mass.</p><p>&quot;I always went to Mass, every weekend, whether I went to Mass first and then I went out, or I would go to parties and on Sunday I would go to Mass at some point,&quot; says Alcantara, who grew up in Portage, Ind., the son of immigrants from the Philippines.</p><p>For him, finding a community of other Christians on campus was vital.</p><p>&quot;Friends really challenged me: &#39;You say you&#39;re a Christian but you&#39;re not living a Christian lifestyle,&#39; &quot; he recalls. &quot;And I didn&#39;t really know what that meant. I started going to Bible studies with them, and realizing that I was living inconsistently with what I say that I believe in.&quot;</p><div><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Rev. Phillip Brown center, watches as Tom Lawrence right, a first-year pre-theologian at Theological College, signs the Book of Inscription during the school's opening Mass in August." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-03_custom-9a2ae849ce500c5e3bd817a876251377eba5b7bf-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Rev. Phillip Brown, center, watches as Tom Lawrence, right, a first-year pre-theologian at Theological College, signs the Book of Inscription during the school's opening Mass in August. (Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>Many collegiate Catholics find a spiritual home at the 2,000 Newman Centers at schools across the country. In the past two decades, many of them have also opened up actual homes &mdash; dorm-like residences &mdash; to accommodate Catholic students. Mundelein&#39;s Baima says in his experience, the centers on secular campuses at big state universities are often the most vibrant.</p></div></div><p>&quot;We used to joke that the Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana was our best college seminary, because so many young men came out of there and looked to go onto graduate seminary,&quot; he says.</p><p>Among recent applicants Baima has interviewed, living at one of these residential centers was an important aspect of &quot;their coming to an adult possession in their faith.&quot;</p><p>&quot;They were able to get into an environment that was supportive for those who had a faith life,&quot; Baima says.</p><p><strong>A Call To &#39;Go Out To The People&#39;</strong></p><p>For all the optimism about the uptick in younger men entering seminary, Brown, the rector at Theological College, offers a caveat.</p><p>&quot;We see a lot of young people ... who have experienced what they have perceived or experienced as chaos in the life around them and society around them,&quot; he says. &quot;Many of them have been looking for a more orderly or safe kind of life that they see that the tradition of the church represents.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s not inherently a bad thing, Brown says.</p><p>&quot;But to the extent that it might represent a kind of retrenchment and unwillingness to engage the world, rather to see yourself as against the world around you, that&#39;s not a good thing,&quot; he says. &quot;That&#39;s not what the Gospel is about, that&#39;s not what the Christian faith is about, that&#39;s not what the church is about.&quot;</p><p>And that&#39;s not the approach Pope Francis has taken so far during this papacy.</p><p>&quot;He radiates a kind of joy and a love for people, compassion, concern, and also of being in touch with the world around him,&quot; says Brown.</p><p>That, in turn, inspires seminarians like Megyery, a first-year theologian.</p><p>&quot;I read about Francis when he was the bishop of Buenos Aires. He traveled on the metro with the people, he had contact with the people,&quot; he says. &quot;I would like to be a priest in this way. Not to hide in my rectory, but to go out to the people and to really embrace them, and maybe not only the parish, but all people, because we have good news for everybody, not only for Catholics.&quot;</p><p>&quot;What Pope Francis does, especially with his emphasis on the poor people, those people who are a little abandoned and live on the outskirts, are neglected by society,&quot; Megyery says, &quot;that&#39;s where we have to go, he&#39;s just following Jesus&#39; example this way.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442243849/at-u-s-seminaries-a-rise-in-millennials-answering-gods-call"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-seminaries-rise-millennials-answering-gods-call-113051 U.S. bishops reject candidate tied to Chicago sex abuse http://www.wbez.org/story/news/us-bishops-reject-candidate-tied-chicago-sex-abuse <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Kicanas2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Catholic bishops have chosen a New York prelate to lead their organization for the next three years. The move is an unexpected defeat for an Arizona bishop under fire for his links to an imprisoned Chicago child molester.<br /><br />At a meeting Tuesday in Baltimore, the bishops elected New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a St. Louis native, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan&rsquo;s victory is the first time in decades the nation&rsquo;s bishops have passed over a sitting vice president for their top post.<br /><br />That vice president, Tuscon Bishop Gerald Kicanas, once served as rector of a Chicago archdiocese seminary in northwest suburban Mundelein. In that post, Kicanas heard about three instances of alleged sexual misconduct by a student named Daniel McCormack.<br /><br />The nature of those incidents is murky. An archdiocese-commissioned report describes one as &ldquo;sexual abuse of a minor&rdquo; and says they occurred when McCormack attended a nearby seminary college&mdash;before he arrived in Mundelein.<br /><br />Kicanas approved McCormack&rsquo;s 1994 ordination. As a Chicago priest, McCormack sexually abused more than a dozen boys. Cardinal Francis George had started receiving allegations about the abuse by September 2005 but didn&rsquo;t pull McCormack out of the ministry until Chicago police arrested the priest in January 2006. The roles of Kicanas and George, the outgoing USCCB president, were the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/undefined/sex-abuse-lurks-behind-catholic-election">WBEZ report</a> last month.<br /><br />The National Catholic Register last week pressed Kicanas for his reactions to the report. A written response from the bishop said revelations about the three alleged sexual-misconduct incidents led to a church evaluation of McCormack. He said the evaluation sought &ldquo;to determine if he could live a celibate life and if there was any concern about his affective maturity.&rdquo;<br /><br />The evaluation found that McCormack&rsquo;s alleged misconduct was &ldquo;experimental and developmental,&rdquo; Kicanas added. &ldquo;I would never defend endorsing McCormack&rsquo;s ordination if I had had any knowledge or concern that he might be a danger to anyone.&rdquo;<br /><br />On Sunday morning some victims of priest sexual abuse led a Chicago protest against Kicanas, warning that it would be a mistake for U.S. bishops to elect him. Some conservative Catholic bloggers, meanwhile, seized on the controversy and cited additional reasons to oppose Kicanas. They said he wouldn&rsquo;t uphold many Catholic teachings strictly enough.<br /><br />Kicanas, 69, has pushed for dialogue between the church&rsquo;s liberal and conservative wings. In Arizona, the bishop has spoken against abortion and gay marriage but hasn&rsquo;t denied communion to politicians who favor abortion rights. On immigration, Kicanas has sided against a tough new Arizona law and pushed for a federal overhaul that would include a legalization of undocumented residents. Kicanas promoted &ldquo;comprehensive immigration reform&rdquo; as recently as Friday, when he gave the keynote speech at a church conference in Hammond, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago.<br /><br />Dolan, 60, appeals to many Catholic conservatives as a more aggressive defender of church orthodoxy. Last year, he signed a statement that united leading evangelicals and Catholics against abortion and gay marriage.<br /><br />The Vatican installed Dolan as New York archbishop last year. He had spent almost seven years as archbishop of Milwaukee.<br /><br />In Baltimore, where the bishops are holding their annual fall meeting, Dolan beat Kicanas in the third round of voting, 128-111. Dolan will replace Cardinal George as president this week. In another win for conservatives, the bishops elected Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to take Kicanas&rsquo; place as their vice president.<br /><br />An expert on the U.S. bishops says it&rsquo;s hard to know whether the latest McCormack flare-up shifted votes against the Tuscon bishop. &ldquo;Clearly Kicanas was being attacked and accused of making bad decisions when he was rector of the seminary,&rdquo; says Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. &ldquo;On the other hand, Dolan has also been criticized by victims of sexual abuse.&rdquo;<br /><br />In August, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Dolan &ldquo;quietly, recklessly and deceptively&rdquo; let a priest resign from his Harlem parish without mentioning that &ldquo;at least nine men&rdquo; had accused the priest of sexually abusing them as children.<br /><br />But a SNAP statement applauds Tuesday&rsquo;s defeat of Kicanas: &ldquo;We can hope that his shocking defeat will help deter future clergy sex crimes and coverups by the Catholic hierarchy.&rdquo;<br /><br />The USCCB has no formal authority over bishops but helps them promote Catholic teachings and coordinate positions on national issues such as marriage, immigration and health care. The organization has also formed policies to protect children from sexually abusive priests and other adults.</p></p> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 21:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/us-bishops-reject-candidate-tied-chicago-sex-abuse Sex abuse lurks behind Catholic election http://www.wbez.org/story/undefined/sex-abuse-lurks-behind-catholic-election <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-04/Bishop_Kicanas_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>This story was updated with a clarification on Nov. 12, 2010.</em> *<br /><br /><strong>The nation&rsquo;s Catholic bishops will choose a new leader next month. Both their outgoing president and the bishop likely to take his place have strong ties to the Chicago</strong><strong> archdiocese</strong><strong>. That&rsquo;s not all they have in common. Both clerics advanced the career of a priest who molested as many as 23 boys.&nbsp;They did so even though top archdiocese officials had received allegations about misconduct by the priest. If the election goes as expected, it&rsquo;ll provide ammunition to people who argue there&rsquo;s no accountability for bishops who protect abusers. We report from our West Side bureau.</strong><br /><br />Daniel McCormack went to prison in 2007 for abusing boys when he was pastor of St. Agatha&rsquo;s, a parish in Chicago&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood.<br /><br />To learn more about McCormack, I sit down with a father whose son attended the Catholic school next to the parish. I&rsquo;m keeping the man&rsquo;s name to myself to protect his son&rsquo;s identity.<br /><br />The father says his boy started acting out around age 11 after joining a basketball team McCormack coached. &ldquo;You would try to get to the bottom of it but there was no real way to figure out what was going on,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />The father didn&rsquo;t find out what was going on until recently. His son&rsquo;s now 20. &ldquo;He was, like, &lsquo;Dad, there&rsquo;s something I want to talk to you about,&rsquo; &rdquo; he says.<br /><br />McCormack was fondling the boy at basketball practice, the father says.<br /><br />The abuse didn&rsquo;t stop there. &ldquo;He would have the children doing tasks around the building,&rdquo; the father says. &ldquo;He&rsquo;d pay them.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;There was one incident specifically,&rdquo; the father continues. &ldquo;It had started raining. My son was out in the yard, doing some yard work. He had gotten muddy. After getting done with what he was told to do, out in the yard, he went inside. Dan told my son to get out of the clothes: &lsquo;Go and take a shower.&rsquo; As my son was getting out of the shower, he would bend him over. He inserted his penis in my son. And this happened more than once.&rdquo;<br /><br />The man says McCormack abused his son for more than three years.<br /><br />The family has now hired an attorney to see if the Chicago archdiocese will agree to a settlement. &ldquo;I feel really betrayed,&rdquo; the father says. &ldquo;We entrusted these people with our child.&rdquo;<br /><br />I asked the father if he had ever heard of Gerald Kicanas, now a bishop of Tuscon, Arizona. Kicanas helped get McCormack&rsquo;s career off the ground in the early 1990s. Kicanas was rector of an archdiocese seminary where McCormack studied.<br /><br />Here&rsquo;s what happened: Kicanas received reports about three McCormack sexual-misconduct cases, one involving a minor. But Kicanas still approved McCormack for ordination.<br /><br />&ldquo;How do you do these things in the name of God?&rdquo; the father asks.<br /><br />I tell him how the Chicago archdiocese assigned McCormack to various parishes. The priest attracted more accusations, but Cardinal Francis George promoted him in 2005 to help oversee other West Side churches.<br /><br />Around that time, Chicago police arrested McCormack on suspicion of child molestation but released him without charges. Cardinal George kept McCormack in his posts even after the archdiocese sexual-abuse review board urged his removal.<br /><br />The North Lawndale father can&rsquo;t believe this. &ldquo;How is it that you&rsquo;re notified that someone in your parish is doing something to children and these people are still getting higher appointments?&rdquo; he asks.<br /><br />It wasn&rsquo;t until McCormack&rsquo;s second arrest&mdash;more than four months after the first&mdash;that George finally yanked him. The delay outraged victim advocates.<br /><br />But George&rsquo;s peers still elected him president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007. And who did the bishops elect as vice president? Kicanas, the man who approved McCormack&rsquo;s ordination in the first place.<br /><br />&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve looked the other way,&rdquo; says Thomas Doyle, a priest and canon lawyer who helped write a 1985 report about clergy sexual abuse. He later split from church leaders, saying they weren&rsquo;t following his recommendations.<br /><br />Doyle says bishops kept handling abusers the way Kicanas and George handled McCormack: &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve maintained secrecy. They&rsquo;ve secretly transferred the priests. So they have aided and abetted the commission of crimes. But there has been no instance where the pope has called any bishop accountable.&rdquo; <br /><br />Now U.S. bishops are getting ready to elect a president to succeed George. If they stick with tradition, they&rsquo;ll elevate the vice president&mdash;Bishop Kicanas, the former rector of the seminary McCormack attended.<br /><br />I left several messages for Kicanas about the election but he didn&rsquo;t get back. I called the Chicago archdiocese to speak with Cardinal George or a spokesperson. His staff referred me to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A spokeswoman there said child sexual abuse is not an election issue and that no one else would be commenting.<br /><br />So I called up Jeff Field of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a group that often defends how church leaders handle sex-abuse cases. &ldquo;To deny a bishop a promotion because of what some deem as improper&mdash;when what they do is in line with the church&mdash;is wrong,&rdquo; Field says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s ridiculous.&rdquo;<br /><br />In other words, bishops shouldn&rsquo;t face punishment if they followed church policies.<br /><br />And the church claims it didn&rsquo;t know that predators keep at it. &ldquo;Much of the research on sex abusers really began in the &rsquo;90s,&rdquo; says Jan Slattery, head of Chicago archdiocese programs for victims and child safety. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a relatively new body of research.&rdquo;<br /><br />Slattery says the way church officials dealt with McCormack used to be routine. &ldquo;We were very quick to take the word of lawyers and psychologists,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;At one point in time even criminal systems were not putting men in prison for this. They were getting them treatment. But that&rsquo;s changed.&rdquo; <br /><br />Slattery&rsquo;s right. A church audit found U.S. bishops received fewer clergy sex-abuse accusations in 2009 than in any year since 2004. Most of the alleged incidents happened decades earlier.<br /><br />But that&rsquo;s why McCormack stands out. He was abusing the North Lawndale boys just five years ago. And just three years ago, a newspaper quoted Bishop Kicanas saying he was right to allow McCormack&rsquo;s ordination.<br /><br />I asked Slattery how she likes the idea of bishops electing leaders who advanced McCormack&rsquo;s career. She didn&rsquo;t respond.<br /><br />Is Slattery aware of any discipline for McCormack&rsquo;s supervisors? &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to be privileged to that if that happened,&rdquo; she answers.<br /><br />There are people taking a big-picture look at the Catholic sexual-abuse crisis and whether the church should reconsider leadership. &ldquo;Celibacy is part of a complex culture that gives priests a sense of deference and entitlement and elitism that can lead to perverse behavior, apparently,&rdquo; says Thomas Groome, a Boston College theologian.<br /><br />Groome says making bishops accountable would require changing how the church is governed: &ldquo;There are ways available, even within canon law. The canon law of the Catholic Church calls for parish councils, diocesan councils&mdash;priests and lay people having voice and representation. We&rsquo;ve never implemented that.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Some of it will be reform and some of it will be renewal,&rdquo; Groome adds. &ldquo;For example, when you go back into the history of the church, you find that the priests of a diocese had a real voice in choosing their bishop. And, if you go back far enough, in certain places even the people had a real voice in choosing their bishop.&rdquo;<br /><br />But, for now, the faithful don&rsquo;t have that voice. And only the bishops can vote in next month&rsquo;s election.<br /><br />So, barring the unforeseen, their next president&mdash;like the one stepping down&mdash;will have ties to the man who abused the North Lawndale boys.<br /><i><br /></i></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>* An earlier version of this story said Cardinal Francis George advanced Daniel McCormack&rsquo;s career &ldquo;despite receiving allegations&rdquo; about the priest&rsquo;s misconduct. The basis for our account was a 2008 deposition in which the cardinal answered questions under oath about McCormack&rsquo;s 2005 arrest and George&rsquo;s promotion of the priest to head a deanery. In the deposition, George said he learned of the arrest &ldquo;at the end of August&rdquo; of 2005. McCormack&rsquo;s promotion didn't take effect until Sept. 1, 2005.</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>The Chicago archdiocese says George misspoke during that sworn testimony. A church-commissioned report says the cardinal didn&rsquo;t learn of McCormack's arrest until Sept. 2, 2005&mdash;one day after McCormack's start date as dean.</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>The archdiocese says it&rsquo;s significant that George approved the promotion Aug. 29, one day prior to the arrest. &ldquo;I absolutely deny appointing Dan McCormack as dean after learning of the arrest,&rdquo; the cardinal says in a written statement from his spokeswoman.</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>Accordingly, we&rsquo;ve removed these lines: &ldquo;Both clerics advanced the career of a priest who molested as many as 23 boys. They did so despite receiving allegations about his misconduct.&quot;<br /></em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>We replaced them with:</em> <em>&quot;Both clerics advanced the career of a priest who molested as many as 23 boys. They did so even though top archdiocese officials had received allegations about misconduct by the priest.</em><em>&rdquo;</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>As our story notes, however, once George learned of McCormack&rsquo;s August 2005 arrest, the cardinal left the priest in his posts, including the deanery position. The cardinal did so even after his sexual-abuse review board urged McCormack&rsquo;s removal in October 2005. McCormack continued abusing boys. Police finally put an end to it in January 2006, when they arrested him a second time.</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>George insists other archdiocese officials failed to inform him about sexual-misconduct allegations against McCormack </em><em>over the years. But </em><em>the cardinal allowed those officials to continue on in their church careers.</em></p></p> Fri, 22 Oct 2010 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/undefined/sex-abuse-lurks-behind-catholic-election