Say Priest Can’t Help Burbank Police Dept.
By Dermot Connolly
SW News Herald
October 11, 2013
Groups such as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are calling for the removal of the Rev. Robert Stepek from his post as a police resource officer in Burbank,
Stepek was asked in 2006 by the Chicago Archdiocese to step down as pastor of St. Albert the Great Church in Burbank when he was accused of sexually abusing two brothers in the 1980. But he was hired the following year as a police resource officer in Burbank and continues to work there, with the backing of Mayor Harry Klein and other officials.
Klein has been quoted as saying he approved of hiring Stepek as a police resource officer because he “trusted in the goodness” of the priest he knew as a parishioner of St. Albert the Great. Stepek, who formerly was pastor of St. Symphorosa Church in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood, was asked to step down from his Burbank parish after the archdiocese found reason to believe two brothers who had accused Stepek of sexually abusing them in the early 1980s.
Stepek, 58, maintained his innocence and filed an unsuccessful defamation suit against his accusers. But the archdiocese determined there was “reasonable cause” to believe the sexual abuse accusations, which date back to when he was serving at St. Symphorosa.
The case was privately settled out of court. However, according to a recent announcement from the archdiocese, a special Vatican council could not find sufficient evidence during two canonical trials to prove Stepek had molested minors but did find that he “engaged in behaviors inappropriate for a priest” and put restrictions on his duties.
According to reports, Stepek plans to retire as a priest and continue working for the Police Department in the part-time position. But SNAP maintains that the archdiocese should be able to force him to leave the police department. The group challenges Cardinal Francis George’s claim that he has no power to do so because it is a secular job.
“Nonsense. He’s a cardinal. He heads the third-largest archdiocese in America. He’s the former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He helps pick the pope. But despite all this, in reality, he would have us believe that he’s powerless over one of his own priests. This defies common sense,” said SNAP director David Clohessy in a statement.
“Cardinal Francis George is being deliberately deceitful and insulting the intelligence of Chicago Catholic officials. He claims that he can’t stop a priest from counseling grieving adults and kids for a police department,” he continued…“Imagine a Chicago priest working for ‘The Coalition for Assisted Suicide’ or ‘Chicago Catholics for Gay Marriage’ or ‘Citizens For the Death Penalty.’ Now imagine Cardinal George shrugging his shoulders and claiming ‘Sorry, I’m powerless.’
“It’s the height of arrogance, deceit and recklessness for Chicago’s top Catholic official to insist he can’t stop a suspended, credibly accused child molesting cleric from counseling grieving adults and kids for a police department,” said Clohessy. — Southwest Suburban News-Herald