WBEZ | clergy sexual abuse http://www.wbez.org/tags/clergy-sexual-abuse Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Attorneys question Cardinal George for hours about sex abuse http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/attorneys-question-cardinal-george-hours-about-sex-abuse-107949 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CardinalGeorgeCROP.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 250px; width: 300px;" title="In a secret deposition last week, the Chicago archbishop had to answer about his handling of a West Side priest. (WBEZ file/Chip Mitchell)" />The case of a defrocked Roman Catholic priest who went to prison six years ago for sexually abusing boys is still dogging Chicago Cardinal Francis George. Attorneys for alleged victims of the priest got to grill George for a full day last week, sources close to the proceedings say.</p><p dir="ltr">That deposition, a secret June 25 session at a law firm downtown, included about six hours of questioning by a half dozen lawyers. The attorneys represented boys and young men who claimed to have been abused by Daniel McCormack, a former pastor of St. Agatha&rsquo;s, a parish in an impoverished West Side neighborhood.</p><p dir="ltr">George&rsquo;s deposition continued a consolidated case before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Clare E. McWilliams, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because McWilliams had ordered confidentiality.&nbsp;The plaintiffs include about 15 alleged McCormack victims with claims against the cardinal and the archdiocese.</p><p dir="ltr">Last week&rsquo;s session was at least the third George deposition about sexual abuse in the archdiocese. The first took place in 2008. Transcripts the archdiocese released months later provided an unprecedented look at the church&rsquo;s handling of sexual abusers among its clergy.</p><p dir="ltr">In McCormack&rsquo;s case, church officials had received reports about his sexual conduct as far back as his days in a Chicago archdiocese seminary in the early 1990s. But officials still approved McCormack&rsquo;s ordination. They assigned him to various parishes before St. Agatha&rsquo;s, part of North Lawndale, a mostly black neighborhood. McCormack attracted more accusations and Chicago police arrested him twice on suspicion of molesting boys.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2005, around the time of McCormack&rsquo;s first arrest, George promoted the priest to help oversee other West Side parishes as a dean. At least one top archdiocese official found out about that arrest quickly, but George claims to have been kept in the dark until after McCormack&rsquo;s&nbsp;promotion.</p><p dir="ltr">Once George did find out, he let McCormack&rsquo;s&nbsp;promotion stand.&nbsp;The priest remained in his posts even after the archdiocese&rsquo;s sexual-abuse review board urged his removal.</p><p dir="ltr">It wasn&rsquo;t until police locked up McCormack in 2006, more than four months after the first arrest, that George pulled the priest from the ministry. The next year, George&rsquo;s peers elected him president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.</p><p dir="ltr">McCormack&rsquo;s conduct has cost the church untold millions of dollars.&nbsp;In fiscal 2012, which ended June 30 of last year, the archdiocese paid $23.8 million in settlements related to priest sexual misconduct, according to church financial statements posted in recent weeks. That sum was the most the archdiocese had paid out for abuse claims since at least 2003. Attorneys for plaintiffs say the lion&rsquo;s share&nbsp;of the 2012 total went to alleged McCormack victims.</p><p dir="ltr">The archdiocese on Wednesday declined to answer WBEZ questions about George&rsquo;s deposition last week or the spike in settlement payouts. A spokesman wrote that the archdiocese never discussed legal matters.</p><p dir="ltr">Questioned in the past about McCormack settlements, the archdiocese said it was reaching out to all victims of clergy misconduct to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way. George, 76, has expressed regrets for leaving McCormack in the ministry so long and has apologized to some of the victims.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet McCormack&rsquo;s abuse could keep haunting the archdiocese. Apart from the consolidated case, three more alleged victims of the defrocked priest brought lawsuits this week.</p><p>George could receive more negative attention as McCormack tries to win his freedom. After the former priest completed his prison sentence, authorities sent him to an Illinois mental-health treatment center in Rushville while they sought a &ldquo;sexually violent person&rdquo; designation that would keep him behind bars. McCormack, 44, is contesting that effort in Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Jul 2013 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/attorneys-question-cardinal-george-hours-about-sex-abuse-107949 Cardinal blesses ‘healing garden’ for sex-abuse victims http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-blesses-%E2%80%98healing-garden%E2%80%99-sex-abuse-victims-87664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-09/CardinalGeorge_Healing_Garden.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago’s top Catholic official Thursday blessed what his archdiocese is calling its “healing garden” for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.<br> <br> The garden covers a plot next to Holy Family, a 19th century Chicago church at 1080 West Roosevelt Road, and includes more than two dozen varieties of trees, plants and flowers as well as a 600-pound bronze sculpture of a man, woman and child holding hands, dancing in a circle and smiling. An archdiocese committee that includes four abuse survivors started planning the project more than two years ago.<br> <br> At a prayer service before giving his blessing, Cardinal Francis George said the garden shows “a permanent voice of victims, a permanent apology on the part of the church, and a permanent commitment by the ministers of the church . . . that we are there” for victims who seek help.<br> <br> “We hope,” George added, “that, in the midst of this tragedy, there will be the possibility of new life, of resurrection of the heart in such a way that one can continue with new energy and new vigor and to be not trapped in something that brings death but, rather, find new life — with the help of others and the help of God — that will be, itself, a light to the world.”<br> <br> But the garden isn’t impressing some victims of Catholic clerical abuse.<br> <br> “Cardinal George and other church officials have empowered and enabled sexual predators to abuse more children,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Instead of being punished for those reckless actions, many have been promoted.”<br> <br> Blaine says many church officials ought to face criminal investigation.</p></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 21:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-blesses-%E2%80%98healing-garden%E2%80%99-sex-abuse-victims-87664 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