Letter about Accused Priest Being Read at Several Churches
By Bob Roberts
WBBM [Chicago IL]
February 4, 2006
CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio 780) -- The latest priest to be removed from public ministry by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese amid accusations of sexual abuse is the subject of a letter being read tonight and Sunday to parishioners at a half dozen churches where he has served.
The priest was removed Tuesday because of multiple allegations involving then-underage girls in the late 1960s.
The priest is under investigation by the Chicago Police Department, but a spokesperson said that no criminal charges have been lodged.
The accusations against him were first made "roughly two years ago," said Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Dwyer, who said no action was taken at the time because "it's a very complicated case."
That prompted sharp criticism from activists, who called for sanctions against Francis Cardinal George by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"This alleged predator has now had two years to threaten victims, intimidate witnesses and destroy witnesses," said Barbara Blaine, founder and president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), who called the decision not to remove the priest immediately "reckless."
SNAP is leafleting outside of Holy Ghost Church, at 700 E. 170th St., in South Holland, where the priest had been assigned since 1997, until his removal Tuesday.
At the time of the alleged incidents, the priest was assigned to St. John de la Salle Church, at 10205 S. King Dr.
Other parishes to which the priest has been assigned, and at which the letter is being read, include:
- Our Lady of Fatima, 2751 W. 38th Pl.;
- St. Agnes, 2651 S. Central Park Av., and
- Our Lady of the Ridge, 10811 Ridgeland Av., Chicago Ridge.
Archdiocesan guidelines call for the letter to be read at all Masses in each parish in which the priest has served.
Cardinal George Monday met with parishioners at St. Agatha Church, where another priest, Father Daniel McCormack, has been charged by authorities with abuse in incidents that allegedly occurred as recently as late December.
The Cardinal removed McCormack from active ministry Jan. 21 - - the day McCormack was charged, but months after accusations against the priest first surfaced. SNAP and other critics have said that McCormack should have been removed sooner; Cardinal George agreed in statements made Thursday.
He indicated that the Archdiocese would announce changes as soon as this coming week to remove priests immediately when accusations are made. Under current policy, accusations are investigated before priests can be removed. Cardinal George indicated he wanted to consult with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on ways to assure that communities are notified about priests who are suspended amid abuse accusations.
McCormack is free on $300,000 bond, but is barred from public ministry by the Archdiocese and forbidden under terms of his bond to be alone with children.
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