WBEZ | chicago catholics http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-catholics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago archdiocese hid decades of child sex abuse http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-archdiocese-hid-decades-child-sex-abuse-109550 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP341903637932_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After a 13-year-old boy reported in 1979 that a priest raped him and threatened him at gunpoint to keep quiet, the Archdiocese of Chicago assured the boy&#39;s parents that although the cleric avoided prosecution, he would receive treatment and have no further contact with minors.</p><p>But the Rev. William Cloutier, who already had been accused of molesting other children, was returned to ministry a year later and was accused of more abuse before he resigned in 1993, two years after the boy&#39;s parents filed a lawsuit. Officials took no action against Cloutier over his earliest transgressions because he &quot;sounded repentant,&quot; according to internal archdiocese documents released Tuesday that show how the archdiocese tried to contain a mounting scandal over child sexual abuse.</p><p>For decades, those at the highest levels of the nation&#39;s third-largest archdiocese moved accused priests from parish to parish while hiding the clerics&#39; histories from the public. The documents, released through settlements between attorneys for the archdiocese and victims, describe how the late Cardinals John Cody and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin often approved the reassignments. The archdiocese removed some priests from ministry, but often years or decades after the clergy were known to have molested children.</p><p>While disturbing stories of clergy sexual abuse have wrenched the Roman Catholic Church across the globe, the newly released documents offer the broadest look yet into how one of its largest and most prominent American dioceses responded to the scandal.</p><p>The documents, posted online Tuesday, cover only 30 of the at least 65 clergy for whom the archdiocese says it has substantiated claims of child abuse. Vatican documents related to the 30 cases were not included, under the negotiated terms of the disclosure.</p><p>The records also didn&#39;t include the files of former priest Daniel McCormack, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children and whose case prompted an apology from Cardinal Francis George and an internal investigation of how the archdiocese responds to abuse claims.</p><p>But the more than 6,000 pages include internal communications between church officials, disturbing testimony about specific abuses, meeting schedules where allegations were discussed, and letters from anguished parishioners. The names of victims, and details considered private under mental health laws were redacted.</p><p>In a letter distributed to parishes last week, Cardinal George apologized to victims and Catholics, and said the archdiocese agreed to turn over the records in an attempt to help the victims heal.</p><p>The archdiocese released a statement Tuesday saying it knows it &quot;made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify&quot; and that society has evolved in how it deals with abuse.</p><p>&quot;The Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected,&quot; the statement read.</p><p>Officials in the archdiocese said most of the abuse detailed in the files released Tuesday occurred before 1988, none after 1996, and that all these cases ultimately were reported to authorities.</p><p>But victims&#39; lawyers argue many of the allegations surfaced after George assumed control of the archdiocese in 1997, and some of the documents relate to how the church handled the cases more recently.</p><p>&quot;The issue is not when the abuse happened; the issue is what they did once it was reported,&quot; said Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman, who has represented about 200 victims of clergy abuse in the Chicago area.</p><p>When a young woman reported in 1970 that she&#39;d been abused as a teen, for example, Cody assured the priest that the &quot;whole matter has been forgotten&quot; because &quot;no good can come of trying to prove or disprove the allegations.&quot;</p><p>Accused priests often were quietly sent away for a time for treatment or training programs, the documents show. When the accused clerics returned, officials often assigned them to new parishes and asked other priests to monitor them around children.</p><p>In one 1989 letter to Bernardin, the vicar for priests worries about parishioners discovering the record of the Rev. Vincent E. McCaffrey, who was moved four times because of abuse allegations.</p><p>&quot;Unfortunately, one of the key parishioners ... received an anonymous phone call which made reference by name to Vince and alleged misconduct on his part with young boys,&quot; wrote vicar for priests, the Rev. Raymond Goedert. &quot;We all agreed that the best thing would be for Vince to move. We don&#39;t know if the anonymous caller will strike again.&quot;</p><p>When the archdiocese tried to force accused clergy into treatment or isolate them at church retreats, some of the priests refused, or ignored orders by church administrators to stay away from children.</p><p>Church officials worried about losing parishioners and &quot;potential priests&quot; over abuse scandals. &quot;This question I believe is going to get stickier and stickier,&quot; Patrick O&#39;Malley, then-vicar for priests, wrote in a 1992 letter.</p><p>Then, in 2002, a national scandal about dioceses&#39; failures to stop abusers consumed the American church. U.S. bishops nationwide adopted a toughened disciplinary policy and pledged to remove all guilty priests from church jobs in their dioceses.</p><p>But for many victims, it was too little and too late.</p><p>&quot;Where was the church for the victims of this sick, demented, twisted pedophile?&quot; one man wrote in a 2002 letter to George about abuse at the hands of the Rev. Norbert Maday, who was imprisoned in Wisconsin after a 1994 conviction for molesting two boys. &quot;Why wasn&#39;t the church looking out for us? We were children, for God&#39;s sake.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-archdiocese-hid-decades-child-sex-abuse-109550 Church releasing sex abuse files on Chicago clergy http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/church-releasing-sex-abuse-files-chicago-clergy-109525 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP341903637932.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED 8 p.m.</em></p><p>The Archdiocese of Chicago Wednesday released about 6,000 pages of documents detailing what it knows about decades of clergy sex abuse allegations and how it handled them, calling it an effort to &quot;bring healing to the victims and their families.&quot;</p><p>Victims&#39; attorneys, who have fought for years to hold the Catholic Church accountable for concealing crimes and sometimes reassigning priests to positions where they continued to molest children, said they got the documents Wednesday and plan to make them public next week.</p><p>The nation&#39;s third-largest archdiocese agreed to release complaints, personnel documents and other files for about 30 priests with substantiated abuse allegations as part of settlements with&nbsp; victims.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that the files will show a systemic plan over decades in this diocese, along with many other dioceses, to conceal sexual abuse, to conceal who the predators were, and to put the interests of the predators and the institution above the interests of innocent young children,&rdquo; said attorney Marc Pearlman, who has helped represent about 200 victims of clergy abuse in the Chicago area.</p><p>&ldquo;Until there is public disclosure and transparency ... there is no way people can learn about it and make sure it does not happen again,&quot; Pearlman said.</p><p>Bishop Francis Kane, who oversees pastoral care at the archdiocese, began a news conference by apologizing for the abuse. He said church officials at first failed to recognize that child sex abuse was a serious crime.</p><p>But the bishop said there were no cover-ups, even in cases where accused priests may have been reassigned.</p><p>&quot;It was just they didn&#39;t realize that it was such a terrible thing, and so I think they did relocate people, but it was not intended as a way of covering up things,&quot; he said.</p><p>He acknowledged the archdiocese made other &ldquo;terrible mistakes.&rdquo; He said they sent abusive priests off for evaluation and treatment, and then put them back into ministry after they got back reports saying it was safe to do so, something they wouldn&rsquo;t do now.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve also found out that we have to be so sensitive to the victims,&rdquo; Bishop Kane said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve endured some great pain. And so it&rsquo;s important for us to be sensitive and try to help them in ways that will bring healing &hellip;That&rsquo;s one of the great mistakes that I think we made, we didn&rsquo;t realize the depth of this terrible, terrible sin and crime of child sex abuse.&rdquo;</p><p>Archdiocese attorney John O&#39;Malley warned that the documents will be &quot;upsetting.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The information is painful; it&#39;s difficult to read,&quot; said O&#39;Malley, adding he himself was &ldquo;humbled&rdquo; by the issue.</p><p>The documents are expected to be similar to recent disclosures by other dioceses in the U.S. that showed how the church shielded priests and failed to report child sex abuse to authorities. Chicago church officials said 95 percent of the abuse in these cases occurred before 1988 and none occurred after 1996. They said nearly half of the priests involved are dead.</p><p>The documents will include only 30 of 65 priests against whom the archdiocese says it has credible allegations of abuse. That is because settlements that required the disclosures involved just those 30 priests, attorney Marc Pearlman said.</p><p>The release of files also won&rsquo;t include those against Father Daniel McCormack, who was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to abusing five children while he was a parish priest and a teacher at a Catholic school. Those files have been sealed by a judge because of pending court cases, Pearlman said. But he and St. Paul, Minn., attorney Jeff Anderson will re-release the McCormack files they have.</p><p>The documents also won&rsquo;t include information about credibly accused priests who are part of religious orders, even though they may have worked in institutions associated with the archdiocese.</p><p>Attorney O&rsquo;Malley said the archdiocese will review and develop a process to release documents on archdiocesan priests. He said they can&rsquo;t release information about priests from religious orders because those priests aren&rsquo;t in their jurisdiction.</p><p>Victims and their lawyers said publicizing the documents will help victims and the Catholic Church heal and move forward, but they also criticized the archdiocese, saying officials aren&rsquo;t being transparent enough.</p><p>Joe Iacono hopes records related to the priest who abused him more than 50 years ago are among those released.</p><p>&quot;For me, it&#39;s going to empower me again, ... and hopefully it will help others out there struggling to come forward and get help,&quot; said Iacono, 62, a Springfield resident who was abused in the early 1960s while he was a student at a Catholic school in Northlake, Ill., west of Chicago.</p><p>He said Father Thomas Kelly, who is dead but whom the church has acknowledged abused children, took an active interest in a group of boys, lifting weights with them and inviting them to spend the night at the rectory.</p><p>&quot;It was his way of weeding us out and separating us from the rest of the class and making us feel special (so he could) take liberties with us,&quot; said Iacono, who said he tried to forget about the abuse until his daughter was born years later.</p><p>David Rudofski is hoping the victims will find the same healing he did, after he helped win the release of similar documents from the Joliet Diocese. Rudofski was allegedly abused by a priest when he was a child, during his First Confession.</p><p>&ldquo;The more that&rsquo;s out there, the better off everybody will be in the end, the safer children will be and the healing process for many can really start,&rdquo; Rudofski said.</p><p>He sharply disagreed with archdiocesan officials, who Wednesday asked people to view the incidents and the church&rsquo;s handling of them through the filter of a previous era, when much of the abuse happened.</p><p>&ldquo;How is that the standard of the time? Abuse is abuse no matter what decade it is. It&rsquo;s wrong and it always has been wrong,&rdquo; Rudofski said.</p><p>Cardinal Francis George, who has led the archdiocese since 1997, did not attend the news conference. But on Sunday he released a letter of apology to parishioners that said all of these incidents were reported to civil authorities and resulted in settlements.</p><p>In fact, the archdiocese has paid about $100 million to settle sex abuse claims, documents that they have. Officials said the money has come from the sale of land and a bond issue, not donations.</p><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 15:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/church-releasing-sex-abuse-files-chicago-clergy-109525 Chicago Catholic Schools see enrollment increase http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-catholic-schools-see-enrollment-increase-105091 <p><p>Enrollment in Chicago&#39;s Catholic schools has grown over the past three years.</p><p>The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Tuesday the school system has seen an increase of 675 students during that period.</p><p>Preschool, kindergarten and first grade levels have seen a combined 10 percent increase compared to three years ago.</p><p>Catholic schools superintendent Sister M. Paul McCaughey says donations, among other reasons, have driven the surge in enrollment. The additional aid has allowed more students to join the district.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s Catholic school system is the largest of its kind in the nation, comprising of 212 elementary and 38 high schools.</p><p>Nearly 6,000 teachers educate the more than 85,000 students enrolled in the system.</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 08:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-catholic-schools-see-enrollment-increase-105091