Catholics 'Disgusted' by Abusive Priests Files

By Dermot Connolly
Desplaines Valley News
February 5, 2014

The Jan. 21 release by the Chicago Archdiocese of 6,000 pages of documents relating to sexual abuse by priests dating back decades, reminded some area residents of the local connections to the scandal that continues to have repercussions.

Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests maintain that the information does not go far enough, and point out that the documents were released to plaintiffs’ lawyers to comply with a settlement agreement, rather than willingly.

The documents include information about 30 of at least 65 priests for whom the archdiocese has substantiated claims of child abuse.

Those not included belong to religious orders, and church officials said members of religious orders, unlike diocesan priests, are not under the control of Cardinal Francis George.

Few people contacted wanted to comment by name, but words such as “disgusting,” “disgraceful” and “sinful” were used to describe the scandal, which was uncovered on a national and international scale in the 1990s.

Archdiocesan officials have noted that “95 percent” of the abuse documented over the past 50 years in the released files took place before 1988, and none occurred after 1996. Fourteen of the names priests have since died, and none are active in the church anymore. All the cases were ultimately reported to authorities.

However, as SNAP members and others have pointed out, the documents do show how church officials dating back to Cardinal Cody.

Among the priests named who served locally is the Rev. Norbert Maday, who served at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Oak Lawn and then St. Bede the Venerable Church in Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood. He later was assigned to Our Lady of the Ridge in Chicago Ridge.

In 1994, Maday was found guilty of molesting two boys at a religious retreat in 1986. And two men testified about being abused by him while he was at St. Bede’s. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Wisconsin, and has since been released under court supervision and wears an ankle monitor.

Among the documents released are letters from Cardinal George to Maday, informing him that he would not be defrocked.

“You have suffered enough by your present deprivation of ministry and your incarceration,” George wrote.

Another letter from George to Maday in 2002 states that the archdiocese had tried, unsuccessfully, for a reduction in sentence.

Maday has since been defrocked and George apologized to victims and Catholics for past mistakes in the handling of the crisis.

George recently released a statement, saying he knows he “made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify” and that society has evolved in how it deals with abuse. George said that while the detail in the documents is “upsetting” and “painful to read,” it is “not the Church we know or the Church we want to be.”

According to church documents, a settlement was also reached in 2005 with someone who accused the late Rev. Jeremiah Duggan of abuse during his tenure at Queen of Martyrs Church in Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood from 1955 to 1966. He later served as pastor at St. Bede’s, and was very popular with parishioners.

“It is terribly sad and devastating for some people, but I’m glad it is all out there,” said one woman who grew up in St. Bede Parish, and worked in the rectory during the time Maday was associate pastor between 1977 and 1983.

“Nobody can or wants to believe it,” she said, speaking of the case against Duggan.

Another priest named in the documents is the late Rev. Richard Skriba, who served as pastor at Queen of the Universe Church in the 1980s. An abuse claim against him was made by a woman in 2004, the same year that he died.

Substantiated claims of abuse were also made against his brother, Raymond Skriba, also a priest. He was released from public ministry in 2002, and died just recently.

The records also do not include the files of West Lawn native Daniel McCormack, a former priest who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children while serving at St. Agatha Church.

He was defrocked the same year, and all the lawsuits against him have not been settled.

Marc Pearlman, one of two attorneys acting for victims of abuse by Catholic priests, said at a press conference that the documents reveal the leadership at the archdiocese of Chicago was involved in the “systematic cover-up” of abuse.

“I agree that this is a sinful thing and wrong, and the perpetrators should be punished. But there should be forgiveness on all sides,” said a resident of Chicago’s Marquette Manor neighborhood. “People are still going to go to church and pray, and the church will continue.”

“Painful though publicly reviewing the past can be, it is part of the accountability and transparency to which the Archdiocese is committed,” George said in a recent letter to local Catholics. He said that for more than 20 years, the Archdiocese has reported all allegations of sexual abuse to “the civil authorities:” and the Department of Children and Family Services.


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