Cardinal Intervened for Priest
Archdiocese of Chicago sought release, records say

By Marie Rohde
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 14, 2008

[Note from This article contains references to the deposition of Cardinal Francis E. George. Below we have added links to the deposition and its exhibits.]

Cardinal George’s deposition [so linked in the original article]

Cardinal George’s letter to Tommy Thompson [so linked in the original article]

For more than a decade, officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago attempted to influence Wisconsin state officials on behalf of Norbert Maday, a priest convicted in 1994 of sexually assaulting two boys he had taken to an Oshkosh recreational retreat, according to newly released records.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George and others repeatedly sought to have Maday's sentence reduced or have him released to the care of church officials.

Though unsuccessful, church officials did convince then-Gov. Tommy Thompson to allow the body of Maday's mother to be brought to the Fox Lake Correctional Institution for a service - something state prison officials say had never been allowed before and has not happened since.

In a 1997 letter to Thompson, George wrote: "Thank you for your personal thoughtfulness in granting extraordinary permission for the body of Catherine Maday to be brought to the Fox Lake Correctional Facility for the viewing by her son, Norbert. It was an exceptional act of charity." [See Exhibit 21 and Deposition p. 248.]

Jason Denby, a Thompson spokesman reached at the Washington, D.C., law firm where the former governor works, said Thompson was out of the office and would have no comment on the matter.

The letter was among hundreds of pages of documents released by the Chicago archdiocese this week as part of a $12.6 million settlement involving 16 abuse victims of 11 Chicago priests, including Maday.

Maday was convicted in Winnebago County of intimidating a witness and three counts of sexual abuse related to the 1986 visit to Oshkosh with the boys, then 13 and 14. He threatened to kill one of the boy's older brother if they reported the abuse. They did not come forward until 1992.

Maday, now 70, reached his mandatory release date in October but is being held pending the outcome of a trial seeking to have him declared a sexually violent offender and subject to indefinite civil commitment in a secure facility.

George testified in a deposition that when he arrived in Chicago in 1997, he was told that Maday abused children and that he believed the accusations to be true. Nonetheless, he and members of his staff attempted to get Maday out of prison, despite his refusal to comply with prison treatment programs. [See Deposition pp. 252-53.]

According to the records:

Father Larry McBrady, the Chicago vicar for priests, wrote Maday that George tried to get a program designed for him, but prison officials were "adamant that you not receive any special treatment." [See Exhibit 22.] George said he encouraged Maday to participate in an existing program so he might get released from prison early.

When Maday became eligible for parole in 1999, McBrady asked that Maday be released to a church monitoring program, saying Maday would be welcomed in Chicago. [See Exhibit 26. The letter is from Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, not McBrady.]

In 1999, McBrady wrote a supporter that the archdiocese was doing everything possible to free Maday. [See Exhibit 28.]

In 2000, McBrady wrote to George asking that the cardinal call then-Green Bay Bishop Aloysius Wycislo to help get an early release for Maday. He noted that the publicity surrounding the funeral for Maday's mother at the prison might have backfired: "The media's take on the story was that Chicago was attempting to influence the way things are done in Wisconsin." [See Exhibit 30.]

Maday, ordained in 1964, was laicized in 2007 at George's request, more than four years after an internal board recommended [see Exhibit 40] the move.



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