One View: Social justice begins at home for Fenwick

Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest [Illinois]

March 10, 2021

By Jack Crowe

Rev. Richard Peddicord, OP, president of Fenwick High School, wrote last week about the important role that Catholic social teaching can play in healing the divides in our nation.  

He wrote that “The guiding principle of Catholic social teaching is the inviolable dignity of the human person. Every human being is a unique and beloved creation of God. As such, every human person deserves respect, care, love.” 

The search for common ground

The problem is that this high-minded language does not apply to the Dominicans and their failure to release the facts they know about sexual abuse by Dominican priests at Fenwick and at parishes in Chicagoland, including River Forest.  

In January 2019, Wednesday Journal reported on extensive sexual abuse by a priest, Fr. William Farrell, OP, at Fenwick in the ’60s and until 1970:

Victims of former Fenwick priest tell their stories

Fr. Marchionda, the head of the local Dominicans, told Wednesday Journal that he would release a list of known Dominican sexual abusers by the end of 2019.  

That never happened. Unlike the Archdiocese of Chicago and most religious orders such as the Jesuits, the Dominicans and Fenwick have failed to give any accounting.  

Nor is one in the offing. A recent Sun-Times article reports that, despite pleas from Cardinal Cupich, the Dominicans continue to refuse to post a list of members credibly accused of sexual abuse (Feb. 26, 2021):

A national priest pedophile website lists the names of eight local Dominican priests.  

In the Sun-Times, Fr. Marchionda (who is also on the Fenwick Board of Directors) says that no list will be forthcoming anytime soon. “The province has made no decision with respect to a public listing of the names of those who have substantiated allegations against them. It remains under consideration.”

The Dominican dissonance on Catholic social teaching hits home for me personally because the Dominicans and Fenwick have never publicly acknowledged that one of their own, Fr. Francis Robert Crowe, OP, who taught Latin and was athletic director at Fenwick in the ’50s, repeatedly sexually assaulted my brother when he was a child, as I wrote here in 2018:

Catholics need a Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Fr. Bob, as we called him, was my father’s first cousin. The Dominicans have remained silent about that abuse since being informed by 2002 at the latest.  

If the Dominicans, Fenwick, and President Peddicord seek to lead a discussion about the “respect, care and love” owed to all individuals, they should start by being accountable for the sexual abuse of innocent young people by Dominican priests at Fenwick and elsewhere.