Cardinal: Church Failed to Protect Children
Lawsuit Accuses Another Priest of Molestation

By Dalia Hatuqa, Ciaran McEvoy and Yuxing Zheng
The Times [Chicago IL]
April 7, 2006

Cardinal Francis George Thursday acknowledged the Archdiocese of Chicago failed to protect children from sexual abuse while the Rev. Daniel McCormack was pastor of a West Side church. The failure occurred even after allegations surfaced that he had previously molested minors.

But George also said it was impossible for him to visit each parish where sexual abuse allegations had been raised.

"We do [visit]. I don't personally, but I write a letter," he said.

The archbishop told Medill News Service that an auxiliary bishop meets with parishioners on his behalf. "My schedule is filled up to visit parishes a year in advance, but we do that."

The cardinal's comments came in response to a request from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The suggestion was made during a news conference announcing that another lawsuit had been filed against the archdiocese by a man claiming he was abused by a priest in the late 1980's.

During a Thursday afternoon speech before the City Club of Chicago, George admitted that the church did not act responsively last summer after accusations were made about McCormack's actions at St. Agatha's Church in North Lawndale.

The cardinal said the achievements of the Catholic Church were marred by the abuse scandal. "A moral crisis colors all this," he told the City Club.

George said the McCormack case was the first he encountered since he became archbishop. But he acknowledged that lapses were made by archdiocesan staff.

"These terrible actions make it very difficult to [love or trust], and it destroys the church itself," he said.

Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director, said the cardinal had not done enough for the victims.

"He has an obligation to actively seek out victims and make an effort instead of waiting for something to happen," she said. "It's time for him to be a good shepherd."

McCormack appeared Thursday at a routine court hearing where prosecutors asked Criminal Court Judge Thomas Sumner to review documents the archdiocese claims are privileged.

McCormack, 37, pleaded not guilty last month to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of three boys aged from 11 to 13 between 2001 and 2005 at St. Agatha's Church.

James Geoly, the archdiocese's attorney, was out of town on business, prosecutors said. They had expected Geoly to attend the hearing.

McCormack's next scheduled hearing is May 30.

Meanwhile, Thursday's lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County's Law Division, alleges that another priest, the Rev. Robert D. Craig, abused "Juan Doe," then a teenager, more than 100 times between 1987 and 1990.

Doe had met Craig at St. Ann's Parish on Chicago's Southwest Side, but the alleged abuse occurred after the priest moved to St. Mark's in Humboldt Park. Doe, now 31, is a Hispanic man who lives in Chicago's suburbs, his attorney Jeff Anderson said.

The archdiocese suspended Craig in 1991 but did not defrock him. He resigned from active ministry two years later. Anderson said his office has contacted six victims claiming Craig abused them.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.