Cardinal Visits Parish Hurt by Alleged Abuse

By Cheryl V. Jackson
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]
May 16, 2004

The focus was on "a new beginning" Saturday as Cardinal Francis George led a mass at a Northwest Side parish that has had two years to come to grips with charges a former priest there sexually assaulted a teenage girl.

George came to St. Tarcissus for the dedication of its new baptismal fountain and pool. But there was an underlying theme of moving forward.

"I have kept all of you, especially the victim, in my prayers," George told the congregants. "Recognize that in sin we also find the sense of forgiveness."

In 2002, the Archdiocese of Chicago reported the Rev. Sleeva Raju Policetti, who had been at the church six years, was accused of sexual misconduct with a parish teen. The priest fled Chicago for his native India in May 2002.

He was arrested in India and charged in Cook County with sexual assault. His extradition status was not available Saturday.

"It's not like people are dwelling on it," said Amy Rubic, the church's music director. "We're moving on. Churches experience bad times. My faith is stronger than one dumb priest, than one sinful priest."

The Rev. Daniel McCarthy, the church's pastor, said the victim is "doing much better and seems to be healing pretty well. As well as can be expected."

"Our whole goal was to put that chapter in the past and to look ahead to the future," McCarthy said. "It's a kind of new beginning because of our painful experience two years ago."


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