WBEZ | priest sexual abuse http://www.wbez.org/tags/priest-sexual-abuse Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Survivors, lawyers say documents prove priest sex abuse cover-up http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557 <p><p>Newly released documents offer the most sweeping look yet at how the Archdiocese of Chicago has handled cases of sexual abuse by priests. Attorneys and victims contend they provide clear evidence of a cover-up that started in the 1950s and continues today.</p><p>Victims&rsquo; attorneys put 6,000 pages online Tuesday. They detail alleged abuse by 30 priests against about 50 victims.</p><p>Kathy Laarveld&rsquo;s son was one of those molested by a priest. For years, she was a staunch supporter of her parish. She was the secretary, the cook, even did the laundry for the priests, who were regular dinner guests.</p><p>She had no idea that Vincent McCaffrey, one of these priests she trusted, was abusing her son.</p><p>&ldquo;McCaffrey actually took advantage of my son on his First Communion in my home, in front of my family,&rdquo; Laarveld said.</p><p>It was not until her son told her about 10 years ago -- 20 years later -- that she learned the truth. McCaffrey admitted during court hearings to molesting so many children that he lost count. The documents show he offended at every parish where he served, including that of Laarveld and her son.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t forgive myself, I&rsquo;m his mother. I would have jumped in front of a bus or a train before I would ever have let anybody touch him,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Laarveld and her husband, Jim, are among survivors of priest sex abuse and their families who worked to get these papers released. Their attorneys say they refused to settle their cases unless the files went public.</p><p>The 30 priests described in the documents are about half the number the Archdiocese lists as credibly accused.</p><p>Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented victims in these cases, spell out the accusation of a cover-up. He said, &ldquo;Priests were offending children, and they made intentional and conscious choices to conceal that, protect the priests, protect the reputation of the Archdiocese, and in effect conceal the crime and give safe harbor to the offender.&rdquo;</p><p>The documents show that offending priests moved in and out of treatment and from parish to parish, over and over, without the old parish or new one knowing what had happened.<br /><br />They show monitoring failed repeatedly. Priests and nuns who were selected to keep abusive priests from re-offending told the highest church officials they were not clear what their jobs were. They told officials the priests were breaking restrictions and hanging around kids again. And often, the records show, nothing was done.</p><p>&ldquo;It shows a pattern of repeated abuse, repeated allegations, the Archdiocese working hard to keep that all bottled up in secret and then transferring these gentleman from one parish to another so they can abuse again,&rdquo; said Chicago Marc Pearlman, who has represented nearly 100 victims along with Anderson.</p><p>&ldquo;What is striking to me is every file is very similar,&rdquo; Pearlman added. &ldquo;Each file tells the same story. The only difference is the perpetrator&rsquo;s name and the victims&rsquo; names.&rdquo;</p><p>Consider the case of Daniel Holihan. In 1986, a mom wrote to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to tell him that the kids called Holihan &ldquo;Father Happy Hands.&rdquo;</p><p>Holihan was reportedly touching and fondling many boys and bringing them to his cottage. When the police showed an abuse-prevention movie on &ldquo;good touch, bad touch,&rdquo; a bunch of boys told their teacher it had happened to them.</p><p>The State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office found at least 12 cases with credible evidence, but did not charge Holihan.&nbsp; A letter thanks the office for its efforts to &ldquo;minimize the negative impact on the parish.&rdquo;</p><p>The documents show the Archdiocese moved Holihan to senior ministry, but let him serve in a parish on weekends for a number of years.</p><p>The Archdiocese has apologized for its handling of cases such as this. In a statement, it&nbsp; acknowledged that leaders &ldquo;made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The pain and the suffering of victims and their families is just something that continues to haunt me, and I think it is also a terrible thing for the church,&rdquo; said Bishop Francis Kane, who oversees pastoral care for the Archdiocese.</p><p>But Kane denied there was an orchestrated cover-up. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t believe there was ever an intention to hide what has happened,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;What happened, I believe, is we&rsquo;ve had a change in understanding. Forty years ago when many of these incidents took place, we treated sex abuse in a very different way.&rdquo;</p><p>The Archdiocese points out that nearly all these cases happened before 1988. None of the 30 priests remain in active ministry. Half are dead.</p><p>The attorneys for the victims do acknowledge some things are better, including a program to help victims and training to recognize abusers.</p><p>But they say they see signs of similar patterns still occurring.</p><p>In the past decade, Father Joseph Bennett was accused of multiple allegations, including penetrating a girl&rsquo;s rectum with the handle of a communion server. In a letter to the Gary (Ind.) Diocese, asking for help monitoring Bennett, the Archdiocese said it only knew of one allegation.</p><p>Attorney Jeff Anderson points out review board reporting to Cardinal Francis George -- Bernadin&rsquo;s successor -- recommended Bennett&rsquo;s removal from priesthood.</p><p>&ldquo;Cardinal George, instead of following that recommendation, took the Bennett file and made his own determination, notwithstanding the fact one of the witnesses in that file described Bennett&rsquo;s scrotum,&rdquo; Anderson said.</p><p>The Cardinal said in documents that he interceded to make sure Bennett -- who, like many of the priests, has maintained his innocence -- had a canon lawyer.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from a letter the Cardinal wrote to a Bennett supporter:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/letter.PNG" style="height: 370px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>It is this kind of response that angers Kathy and Jim Laarveld. They say their family has&nbsp; paid a high cost for priest sexual abuse, and how the Archdiocese handled it.</p><p>Jim no longer goes to Mass. Kathy tries, but she sometimes starts to sob when she begins to walk into church.</p><p>She says their son, as a boy, was carefree, a firecracker. Now he is a compassionate man who has struggled because of the abuse.</p><p>&ldquo;I look at him and I see the day he was born, all the hope, all the love, the sparkle in his eye, and his face,&rdquo; Kathy said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a very playful individual, but he&rsquo;ll catch himself, and I say, &lsquo;Go for it. Be that little boy you could never be. You always had that over your head.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Her husband, Jim, plans to look at the documents. Their parish had two abusive priests at the same time.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to hurt, although we know a lot of what&rsquo;s in there, I&rsquo;m sure there&rsquo;s stuff we don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to hurt my son. Hopefully we can be with him when he looks at it, because I don&rsquo;t want him to be alone.&rdquo;</p><p>Kathy Laarveld expects that pain will be short-lived. She thinks seeing the documents -- and the acknowledgement this all happened -- will help her son, and her entire family, to heal.</p><p>And she hopes it brings healing to others as well.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557 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 Joliet bishop allows priest accused of sexual abuse to return to ministry http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/joliet-bishop-allows-priest-accused-sexual-abuse-return-ministry-102420 <p><p>The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is demanding that Cardinal Francis George help oust a fellow bishop from a national committee intended to protect youth from sexual abuse by priests.</p><p>Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops&#39; Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.</p><p>Conlon allowed Father Lee Ryan to return to his ministry this week. The Diocese of Joliet put Ryan on leave in 2010 after a man in Florida alleged that he had been abused by Ryan repeatedly in the 1970s.</p><p>But in a statement, Bishop Conlon said a Vatican office made this determination: &ldquo;Under church law in force at the time of the alleged abuse, Father Ryan was not guilty of a grave delict (serious crime) and therefore could not be removed permanently from ministry.&rdquo;</p><p>The bishop is allowing Ryan to return to ministry, serving homebound parishioners of St. Edmund&rsquo;s Parish in Watseka, Ill.</p><p>SNAP said Thursday that Bishop Conlon doesn&rsquo;t deserve to head the U.S. bishops&rsquo; committee. SNAP spokesperson Barbara Blaine called the diocese &ldquo;naïve&rdquo; to think that shut-ins don&rsquo;t have families or children visiting.</p><p>&ldquo;The bishops have committed themselves to a zero-tolerance policy, and this is a direct violation of that policy,&rdquo; Blaine said.</p><p>The alleged victim said he was &ldquo;blindsided&rdquo; by the bishop&#39;s actions: &quot;Why would you risk putting a known predator ... why would they do that?&quot; he asked.</p><p>He said the Diocese of Joliet won&rsquo;t clearly explain to him why they made the decision to return Ryan to ministry.</p><p>&ldquo;I asked them, &#39;What if he touches another young person?.&#39; They said, &lsquo;Well then it&rsquo;s on our hands,&quot; he said. &quot;I just felt like, well I guess when he touched me, they don&rsquo;t consider it on their hands.&rdquo;</p><p>A statement from the diocese said Father Ryan may ask to be reassigned to different duties.</p><p>The diocese and the Conference of Catholic Bishops did not return calls for comment.</p></p> Thu, 13 Sep 2012 19:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/joliet-bishop-allows-priest-accused-sexual-abuse-return-ministry-102420 Defrocked Chicago priest gets path to freedom http://www.wbez.org/story/defrocked-chicago-priest-gets-path-freedom-96418 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-15/Sand Ridge.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A court-approved agreement that classifies a defiant former Chicago priest as “sexually violent” could lead to his release from a Wisconsin treatment facility as early as November.</p><p>Norbert Maday, convicted in 1994 of sexually assaulting Chicago-area children, avoided a Wisconsin jury trial that would have begun Tuesday. Under the deal, prosecutors in Winnebago County won’t contest a supervised release of Maday, 73, if a state evaluation determines the defrocked priest is ready for that freedom. The agreement, approved by Circuit Court Judge Daniel J. Bissett, requires the evaluation to take place in nine months. If Maday remains in custody from there, re-evaluations will occur annually.</p><p>Kevin Greene, the case’s special prosecutor, said his team also wanted to avoid a jury trial.</p><p>“If you lose, he walks away with less supervision,” said Greene, an assistant district attorney in Brown County. The agreement “allows the closest supervision in the community that we can get” if the evaluation backs Maday’s release, he said.</p><p>In 1992, Winnebago County prosecutors charged Maday with molesting two boys, ages 13 and 14, from a Chicago Ridge parish at a 1986 religious retreat in Oshkosh. The court convicted him on three counts of sexual assault and one count of intimidating a witness and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.</p><p>In 2007, as Maday completed the prison term, Wisconsin sought his confinement under a statute that puts “sexually violent persons” under control of the state Department of Health Services. As that case dragged on, Maday remained in the department’s Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, a town in central Wisconsin. Tuesday’s agreement will keep Maday there as the department provides him treatment.</p><p>Maday’s attorney, Ralph Sczygelski of Manitowoc, told WBEZ the former priest “has denied he is a sexually violent person” and “continues to vehemently deny that anything bad happened” during the Oshkosh retreat. Maday did admit that there was “potentially sufficient evidence for a jury to find him to be a sexually violent person,” Sczygelski said.</p><p>Maday’s possible release could become embarrassing to Cardinal Francis George, head of the Chicago archdiocese, which employed Maday for almost three decades and paid him a stipend in prison. In 2000, George wrote letters of support to Maday as other top archdiocese officials pushed for early release. At another point, the church won Wisconsin permission for the body of Maday’s deceased mother to be brought to his prison. A letter from George thanked then-Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson for that “exceptional act of charity.”</p><p>In a court deposition, George said his view of Maday changed in the early 2000s after the archdiocese received more accusations about the priest. In 2007, George wrote to the Wisconsin Parole Commission, saying the archdiocese no longer was “capable of receiving him back into our system.” The archdiocese says the church laicized Maday that year.</p><p>A leading victim advocate said Tuesday’s agreement could lead to more sexual abuse.</p><p>“Given the fact that Father Maday has been given special treatment in the past, we fear that that will cause him to be potentially released sooner than he should be and we fear that that will put children at risk,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based group known as SNAP.</p><p>But Sczygelski said a supervised release would land Maday in an apartment far from children, schools and parks. “The electronic monitoring these days — the science, the technology, basically — enhances safety tremendously,” Sczygelski said. “The neighborhood is told about it. They’re given pictures and everything. And if they see him stepping out of line, believe me, they’re calling 911.”</p><p>The archdiocese, asked whether it will help monitor Maday if Wisconsin releases him, noted that his church status has changed. “As a laicized priest, the archdiocese has no relationship with Mr. Maday,” spokeswoman Susan Burritt said in a written statement.</p><p>The archdiocese declined to say how many Maday victims have come forward or how many have received church compensation. “The archdiocese does not discuss individual claims or settlements,” the statement said.</p><p>Blaine said Maday has been accused of abusing “three to four dozen children.”</p><p>The archdiocese said Maday was associate pastor at six area parishes: St. John of God in Chicago from 1964 to 1966, St. Leo in Chicago from 1966 to 1969, St. Louis de Montfort in Oak Lawn from 1969 to 1977, St. Bede the Venerable in Chicago from 1977 to 1983, Our Lady of the Ridge in Chicago Ridge from 1983 to 1989, and St. Jude the Apostle in South Holland from 1989 to 1992.</p><p>“The archdiocese extends its prayers for God’s healing and peace to all those affected by child sexual abuse,” Burritt’s statement said.</p></p> Wed, 15 Feb 2012 11:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/defrocked-chicago-priest-gets-path-freedom-96418 Archdiocese of Chicago settles McCormack abuse case for $3.2 million http://www.wbez.org/story/archdiocese-chicago-settles-mccormack-abuse-case-32-million-94077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/RS4593_AP060201034158-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys for a victim of Daniel McCormack, the former priest and convicted sex offender, say they’ve reached a $3.2 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George.</p><p>The Chicago-based law firms of Hilfman &amp; Martin and Abels &amp; Annes announced the agreement in a press release Tuesday.</p><p>The attorneys say the victim was between the ages of 10 and 12 when McCormack abused him. He’s one of the five victims McCormack admitted to abusing when the former priest pleaded guilty in 2007. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese says this settles the last of those five claims.</p><p>The lawsuit claimed church leaders failed to keep McCormack away from children even though they knew he had allegedly sexually abused minors.</p><p>William Martin, one of the attorneys for the victim, says he's pleased with the settlement.</p><p>"The plaintiff was able to stand up and look the Archdiocese in the face and say what happened to me shouldn't have happened, and you need to prevent this from happening again," Martin says.</p><p>He called it a step toward justice.</p><p>"Clearly, in our society, we need for decision-makers when they're presented with an option to protect themselves, their boss, their church, their school, their other, to stand up and protect children," Martin says.</p><p>He says settlements like this will help hold the Archdiocese accountable and get the word to victims so they can tell their stories.</p><p>The Archdiocese says in a statement that it does not comment on the specific details of settlements in such cases “out of respect for the privacy of all involved.” But it says victim-survivors can if they choose to do so, and it goes on to state: “The Archdiocese affirms its long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way and continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse.”</p><p>In August 2005, police arrested McCormack and released him without filing charges. According to records, the Cardinal’s sexual-abuse review board urged McCormack’s removal from ministry in October 2005, but the Cardinal didn’t follow that recommendation. The Cardinal didn’t remove Father McCormack from ministry until after his second arrest in January 2006. &nbsp;</p><p>After McCormack’s guilty plea, several other alleged victims came forward. At least two other civil cases are pending.</p><p>McCormack served 2 1/2 years of a five-year prison sentence. He remains in a mental health facility. The state is seeking to have him committed indefinitely under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/archdiocese-chicago-settles-mccormack-abuse-case-32-million-94077 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