Chicago Diocese, Welfare Agency Make Deal

By Michael Tarm
Associated Press, carried in Fort Worth Star-Telegram
February 23, 2006

CHICAGO - The Chicago Archdiocese and the state's child welfare agency announced a joint agreement to more quickly respond to abuse allegations after both came under fire for not doing enough to protect youngsters in a recent priest abuse case.

Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Catholic leaders will immediately report all allegations of child abuse by clergy to the agency, and the agency will notify the archdiocese with 48 hours of its investigators' findings.

Both have been sharply criticized for their handling of the Rev. Daniel McCormack, who is charged with abusing three boys.

Authorities say allegations against McCormack first surfaced in August but the priest was allowed to stay at St. Agatha Church in Chicago until January, when he was charged.

Cardinal Francis George has acknowledged the archdiocese failed to remove McCormack quickly enough. Earlier this week, the archdiocese also accused state child welfare investigators of failing to promptly notify the church of credible evidence against McCormack.

The agency is now investigating new allegations of abuse made against McCormack in recent weeks, agency spokeswoman Diane Jackson said Wednesday. She declined to provide details.

Messages left Thursday for McCormack's attorney, Patrick Reardon, and the archdiocese were not immediately returned.

Reardon has said previously that his client is innocent.

Archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy Lago, appointed last week to oversee internal investigations, said the archdiocese will immediately remove priests once an allegation of child sexual abuse is made.


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