|He 'Wasn't Honest'
Judge Rips Cardinal | Says George Had 'Casual Attitude' about Sex Abuser Priest
By Mike Thomas
September 9, 2008
In a new book, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke slams Cardinal Francis George for his "lack of honesty" and "casual attitude" about allowing a sex abuser priest to stay in his mansion in 2003.
For several years, Burke served on the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The board keeps tabs on clergy sex abuse in the U.S. church.
Burke sharply criticizes George in author Kerry Kennedy's just-released book Being Catholic Now. It's in stores today.
"The cardinal wasn't honest with me," Burke tells Kennedy in an interview conducted in the summer of 2007. "Perhaps he was not honest with himself."
Burke could not be reached for comment Monday.
More than five years ago, the Sun-Times reported that the Rev. Kenneth J. Martin of Delaware, who had pleaded guilty to abusing a boy in the 1970s, had stayed at George's Gold Coast residence off-and-on while serving as a publishing consultant for the Archdiocese of Chicago at Liturgy Training Publications on North Hermitage.
When Martin returned home to New Jersey after the story broke, George had this to say: "No final decisions have been made, but he won't be coming back to Chicago, obviously, because people took it to heart, and they're upset, and I'm sorry for that."
Martin still does occasional "translations, language translations, that would be e-mailed. But he's physically not in ministry here," said Colleen Dolan, the cardinal's spokeswoman. She didn't know where Martin is stationed.
Prior to becoming a priest, Martin had pleaded guilty to abusing a teenage boy in Maryland in the late 1970s. Because he entered into a plea agreement, there was no conviction, and he was sentenced to three to five years of unsupervised probation. He was not required to register as a sex offender in Maryland, because the crimes occurred before Oct. 1, 1995.
"I said, 'You mean there is a difference between the conviction and the plea agreement?' " Burke said she asked George. " 'Yes,' he said. 'He wasn't convicted.' And I said, 'Really? Do you know that when he entered the plea agreement he admitted he was guilty of the conduct of which he was accused?' 'Yes, he did enter into an agreement,' the cardinal said, 'before he was a priest.' "
In a statement, George wrote that he had "stated publicly that there was no priest in ministry in Chicago who had against him a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor. That statement was true when I made it and is true now."
Burke tells Kennedy, "I found the cardinal's lack of honesty really difficult to deal with. How do I go on to trust what he says to me? This continues to the present day. He and his brother bishops have been in denial all along."
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