|SNAP's Analysis of Catholic Bishop's 'Damning' Deposition & Documents
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
July 21, 2009
Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Every Chicago Catholic should read this deposition and documents. Here's the most important part.
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert said that he handled at least 25 Chicago pedophile priest cases.
But not once did he ever report an accused priest to civil authorities, Goedert said.
Not even in cases where priests admitted their guilt.
"My experience in dealing with the priests who I had to confront with this was that they admitted it," said Goedert in the newly released deposition.
"I knew the civil law considered it a crime," Goedert said.
But Goedert, the past president of the national Canon Law Society, said he felt church law – and archdiocese officials – required that he treat the matters confidentially.
"I simply would not talk about [the cases] to anyone except those who had a right to know because of their position in the diocese," Goedert said.
That "confidentially" allowed the archdiocese to move serial predators from parish to parish without congregations' knowledge about child abuse allegations.
One of those priests, Bill Cloutier, remained in ministry even after being accused of raping two kids and threatening their lives at gunpoint, Goedert confirmed.
"[He] was kept in ministry under monitoring," Goedert said.
But Cloutier's priest supervisor at his parish wasn't told about the allegations, Goedert said.
So how good could the monitoring be, asked an attorney for the victims?
The lawyer drew parallels between archdiocese practices described by Goedert and the recent case of Fr. Daniel McCormack, a serial pedophile priest convicted in 2007.
In that case, again, parishioners and employees around McCormack were never told that he was allegedly being "monitored."
When he became Vicar For Priests, Goedert said he learned about a child molestation settlement involving Father Robert Mayer.
But archdiocesan officials, the documents show, didn't seek Mayer's removal. Neither did Goedert.
(Remember: this was NOT an accusation, but rather a settlement.)
>Allegations of abuse continued to surface at every parish where Mayer worked, Goedert has admitted. Mayer also was accused of plying kids with alcohol and marijuana at his residence.
Goedert claimed that Mayer was repeatedly told not to have contact with children. But a 1988 archdiocesan document shows that Goedert's primary concern was protecting the priest's reputation, rather than children's safety, "Again, the purpose of this is not our concern that something inappropriate might happen, but rather for your own protection lest any occasion be given to persons who may want to hurt you by bringing up again the charges from the past," Goedert wrote.
Several priests - Joe Kissane, Vincent McCaffrey, Michael Hogan, Joseph Fitzharris, James Ray and others - were removed from parishes for credible abuse reports.
But the parishioners and public were seldom, if ever, told about the abuse. Instead, the archdiocese said the priests' departures were for "health" or "personal" reasons, these new documents show.
Fox watching chickens
Another priest, Father Robert Kealy, who investigated complaints of sexual abuse by priests as the archdiocese's chancellor, was also a child molester. He resigned in 2006.
Goedert said whenever allegations surfaced against a priest, he conducted the interviews. But he admitted he'd had no training on working with sexual abuse victims.
The archdiocese claims it changed in 1992 after several of the predator priests were exposed through civil lawsuits.
Bernardin appointed a commission, issued a public apology and promised reform.
The evidence suggests little changed.
In 1993, for example, several accused priests, resigned and were given benefit packages but parishioners weren't told why, archdiocesan documents show. Goedert had no explanation.
(Among the priests: Kissane, McCaffrey, Hogan and Weston.)
There's plenty more proof - and more recent proof - that little has changed in the archdiocese.
In 2006, despite his being arrested and against the advice of George's own lay review panel, George left Fr. McCormack in a parish.
(George didn't tell the principal at the school where McCormack hung out that the priest was allegedly being 'monitored.' Nor did he warn the parish.)
In 2006, despite at least four allegations of child sex abuse and against two recommendations from his own lay panel, George left Fr. Joseph R. Bennett in a parish.
In January 2008, George admitted writing letters recently to try to free a convicted predator, Fr. Norbert Maday, from prison.
Later in 2008, despite his criminal conviction for child molestation, George kept Fr. Kenneth Martin on the church payroll.
Just as in 1992, after the Bennett and McCormack cases became public in 2006, the archdiocese apologized and called for scrutiny of its procedures, which revealed reckless practices that the cardinal promised to correct. But in an ancient, secretive, rigid, all-male, top-down monarchical system, a man like George can pledge change, change nothing, and never face consequences. So, in fact, little or nothing changes.
What's the significance of all this?
New York grand jurors, who spent months there interviewing victims, witnesses and clerics, determined that Catholic officials were "incapable" of handling child sex cases honestly and compassionately. We agree.
The deposition and documents show how deeply ingrained secrecy , deceit and recklessness are in this archdiocese. Only a fool would believe that decades-old, deeply rooted patters on of ingrained secrecy , deceit and recklessness have magically been transformed.
What's to be done now?
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes in the Chicagoland - especially those hurt by Fr. Russell Romano - to call police, protect others and start healing. (Today is apparently the first time Romano's been publicly disclosed as a credibly accused predator.) Please do not make the tempting but serious mistake so many others have made, assuming that the church hierarchy has 'changed.' Child sex abuse is a crime and should be reported to criminal authorities, not church authorities.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell
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