Advocates for clergy sex abuse survivors want accused priest added to all Chicago-area diocese lists

Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]

November 30, 2023

By David Struett

The Rev. Richard McGrath’s name belongs on lists of abusers kept by all church districts where he worked, supporters of survivors say.

After being secretive for years, the Augustinian Catholic order has promised to publish early in 2024 a list of priests credibly accused of abuse.

But an advocacy group says one priest accused of child sex abuse and viewing child pornography should not only be placed on the Augustinian’s list, but on lists kept by all of the Chicago-area districts where he worked.

Church officials won’t say if they plan to add the Rev. Richard J. McGrath’s name to their own lists.

But at a news conference Thursday outside a Hyde Park friary that McGrath once called home, survivor advocates demanded his name also be added to the lists of the dioceses where he worked in Chicago, Joliet and Rockford.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) on Thursday sent a letter to Vatican officials, demanding they discipline five top Chicago-area church officials who they say have the power to add McGrath’s name to public lists.

“It’s the civic duty, and it’s the moral duty, of these five Catholic officials that had a role or have a role in his work … that they warn the public about” McGrath, said David Clohessy, volunteer Missouri director of SNAP.

The Augustinian order settled a lawsuit in November for $2 million about McGrath’s behavior, without accepting blame. The alleged victim in the lawsuit, Robert Krankvich, claimed he was sexually abused years ago by McGrath at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox in the 1990s.

In their letter, advocates called for the Vatican to take action against Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where McGrath once worked at St. Rita High School on the Southwest Side; and Bishop Ronald Hicks of the Joliet Diocese, where McGrath worked for more than 30 years at Providence.

The letter also names Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford Diocese, where McGrath worked for four years at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin; Cardinal Robert Prevost, now a top Vatican official and former head of the Augustinian’s Midwest province; and Father Anthony Pizzo, who is now in charge of the Chicago-area Augustinians.

The Chicago Archdiocese referred questions to the Augustinian order, which said it is in the process of dismissing McGrath. Archdiocesan officials did not say whether they plan to add McGrath’s name to any future list of accused priests.

The Rockford Diocese did not immediately reply to a request for comment. McGrath’s lawyer declined to comment.

McGrath was forced out at Providence in December 2017, when a student allegedly saw him viewing a photo of a naked boy on a phone while he attended a wrestling match. Police investigated the incident, but McGrath said he couldn’t produce the phone. In a deposition this year, McGrath refused to say what happened to the phone. No criminal charges were filed.

For abuse survivor advocates, a public list of priests accused of sex abuse is essential to help survivors heal and to protect other children.

“There is no quicker, simpler, cheaper way to protect kids from predatory priests than disclosing identities and putting their names on church websites,” Clohessy said.