Panel Advised Cardinal in October to Remove McCormack

By Michael Sneed and Eric Herman
Chicago Sun Times
February 24, 2006

As far back as October, a review board at the Archdiocese of Chicago advised Cardinal Francis George to remove the Rev. Daniel McCormack over allegations he abused children. But George did not act on the advice.

McCormack remained pastor of St. Agatha's church until late January, when prosecutors charged him with molesting two boys. The priest is now charged with abusing a third boy as recently as last month -- three months after George received the review board's advice.

"The archdiocesan review board advised the archdiocese to remove Father McCormack from his parish, and the archdiocese refused to follow the advice," said Bryan Samuels, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Psychological "Assessment" Cited

Archdiocese communications director Colleen Dolan confirmed that the board gave George "interim advice" in October that McCormack be removed, but she added, "There was no formal recommendation."

At the time, the archdiocese had not been contacted by the family of one of McCormack's alleged victims, Dolan said.

"At that point, [Cardinal George] felt that he didn't have an allegation" to act on, she said.

The archdiocese has defended its actions in the McCormack case by saying it did not have enough information to act sooner.

In particular, church officials have criticized DCFS officials for not sharing results of their probe of McCormack last year, after allegations were made against him in August.

Those allegations did not result in criminal charges, and McCormack resumed his post at St. Agatha's. But DCFS proposed a "safety plan" barring him from contact with children, according to Samuels.

The review board's advice shows the archdiocese had enough information to remove McCormack sooner, Samuels said.

In addition, McCormack was sent to a facility in Maryland for a psychological "assessment" last year, Samuels said.

No New Charges, Cops Say

Made up of lay people and clergy, the review board assesses abuse charges and makes recommendations to the cardinal. Patrick Reardon, McCormack's lawyer, said the board always contacts a priest after receiving an accusation.

But the board did not contact McCormack last year, Reardon said.

Earlier this month, the Rev. William Kenneally of St. Gertrude's parish in Edgewater called on George to resign if he impeded McCormack's removal.

DCFS officials say they are now looking into additional allegations against McCormack. However, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman said there were no new charges in the case.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.