At least seven of the more than 300 Roman Catholic priests named in the Pennsylvania report this month have Illinois connections.
“The Catholic Church has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior,” she said.
The Pennsylvania grand jury report found that more than 1,000 children since the 1940s were sexually abused by priests and that senior church officials covered up their actions.
In a statement, the Chicago Archdiocese said that since 2006, it has posted on its website the names of clergy with substantiated abuse claims against them.
“We have been contacted by the Illinois Attorney General and look forward to discussing our policies and procedures related to misconduct issues with her and her office,” the statement reads. “We have worked cooperatively with the Cook County and Lake County State’s Attorneys for many years. Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Chicago has reported all abuse allegations to the proper civil authorities — DCFS (in cases involving children) and the appropriate State’s Attorney.”
Cupich said the report contained a “catalogue of horrors” that has prompted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to “press for procedures that will make it easier to resolve complaints against bishops in a timely, fair and transparent manner.”
“Now, we have been made to face these scandals first and foremost by the courage of victim-survivors — the men and women who found the strength, even when doing so meant suffering again unimaginable pain, to come forward and seek justice from an institution that grievously failed them,” Cupich wrote.
Cupich also noted that the Chicago Archdiocese has implemented policies that go beyond those adopted in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which included a zero-tolerance policy under which one instance of child sexual abuse would bar a man from the priesthood forever.
These policies include referring all allegations of abuse to authorities, requiring employees and volunteers to undergo background checks, and undergoing a yearly audit to measure compliance with these rules.
The dioceses of Joliet and Rockford, which both include parts of the collars counties, issued statements saying they will cooperate with Madigan’s investigation, and citing the policies and procedures they’ve had in place for years to address abuse allegations.
Here’s a closer look at the priests with Illinois ties, as described in the Pennsylvania grand jury report:
• In a 2002 letter, one victim from Illinois recounted sexual abuse decades ago by the Rev. James Somma, who served as an Air Force chaplain in Illinois. The victim said that at 13, he began doing chores for pocket money at Somma’s home, often spending the night or weekend.
“I’m not sure how I met Father James E. Somma … I can only remember that my mom helped him find the house that would later become my prison,” the victim said in the letter to the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “I thought of him as a ‘father figure’ who praised me …”
From 1984 to 1992, the victim said Somma had him fly from Illinois to the Pittsburgh area and that the priest also visited his family in Illinois, each time bringing a different young boy with him.
“I don’t think I knew what was really happening at the time,” the victim wrote. “Anyway I felt protected by him, and my parents trusted him and I knew they wouldn’t let anyone harm me.”
An evaluation report in 1988 said minors should not have free access to Somma’s home, “given the present day sensitivity to priests’ relationships with children,” and in 1988, the Diocese of Pittsburgh informed a bishop about “suspicions of Father Somma’s misbehavior involving four named, potential male victims.” Yet Somma was permitted to continue serving as a priest until 2002.
• Despite a well-documented tumultuous past, the Rev. Raymond Lukac was permitted in the 1960s to serve the Diocese of Gary, Ind., and the parish of St. Stanislaus in south suburban Posen, though he was not at that church in an “official capacity.”
Church officials resisted his 1954 ordination, citing “his refusal to conform his conduct to that expected of a priest,” and he was briefly dropped as a seminary student before being readmitted under strict conditions.
The following year, parishioners at a Pennsylvania church complained that Lukac was romantically involved with an 18-year-old organist. He was moved to another church, where the head pastor discovered Lukac was involved with a 17-year-old girl. They eloped when she turned 18, and several documents indicate she bore him a child.
Lukac was sent to a facility for “treatment and repentance” in 1957 but in 1961 was allowed to serve in the Gary Diocese on a “trial basis.” Documents in Lukac’s file indicate he at one point likely served as a high school teacher at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond, Ind. He was directed to leave the diocese in 1963.
Lukac’s “fault seems to be lack of prudence,” a school official wrote to a Pennsylvania bishop. “This has been noticed in his dealings with some of the students, particularly the girls. … However, I am not aware of any scandals in this regard, although his conduct at times gave me a few moments of uneasiness and apprehension.”
An allegation of sexual misconduct involving Lukac and a teenager during his service in Gary surfaced in 2011.
The Chicago Archdiocese did not accept Lukac as a priest but did permit him to live temporarily with a fellow pastor at St. Stanislaus in 1963 until he could make other arrangements, according to the grand jury report.
In 2006, the Chicago Archdiocese requested information about Lukac after receiving a complaint that he had sexually abused an 11-year-old girl in the St. Stanislaus rectory.
Several other priests named in the report had Illinois connections.
• The Rev. Gregory P. Furjanic was listed as a friar with the Croatian Franciscan Friars in Chicago in 2003.
• The Rev. Robert E. Spangenberg served as a chaplain at St. Francis de Sales High School in Chicago during the 1980s.
• The Rev. Jerry “John” Kucan served at several Chicago parishes: St. Jerome’s and St. Anthony’s in the 1980s, Sacred Heart in the 1990s and St. Anthony’s Friary from 1995 to 2005.
• In 2007, the Society of the Divine Word near Northbrook notified the Diocese of Erie, Pa., that a victim reported that in 1964 Brother Edmundus Murphy sexually abused him while he in high school.
• Records indicated that in 1987, the Rev. Chester “Chet” Gawronski “confessed to numerous instances of sexual abuse” and was sent to Chicago for psychological evaluations, but “denied any problems with boys.”