Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Catholic activists press cardinal for tougher stance on abuse

Responding to the extraordinary deposition on sexual abuse released by Cardinal Francis George, victims’ advocates on Wednesday demanded more information on abusive priests and assurances that church secrecy would end.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago agreed on Tuesday to a $12.7 million settlement involving 16 victims and 11 priests. With the settlement, the cardinal also released a 305-page transcript of a court deposition detailing errors, secrets and deception by church officials that kept abusive priests in Chicago churches for several years after allegations were made.

George became only the third American cardinal to be deposed in court for questioning on sexual abuse of children by clergy. The other two leaders are Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston.

Standing in front of the archdiocese offices on Wednesday morning, David Clohessy, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said although the cardinal apologized, he did not assure parishioners such errors would no longer be tolerated.

“We want him to promise he will never leave a priest in place after four allegations have been made. We want him to promise he will never try to free a convicted child molester from prison early,” Clohessy said.

The deposition included details on the investigation of 11 priests, including Daniel McCormack, Joseph Bennett, and Norbert Maday. The McCormack scandal triggered outrage when it was discovered that the archdiocese failed to remove him from St. Agatha Roman Catholic Church years after initial allegations of abuse were made. According to the document, as many as 23 people have alleged abuse by McCormack, who is serving a 5-year prison sentence.

In the investigation of Bennett, the deposition said the cardinal and church officials received four detailed allegations of sexual abuse dating to 2002. But they did not remove Bennett from his South Holland church until 2006.

Regarding Norbert Maday, the deposition showed that Cardinal George wrote several letters to authorities to facilitate his early release from prison into an offenders program. Maday is accused of abusing between 35 to 45 children and remains incarcerated.

In the deposition, George is asked: “Did it ever occur to you in 2002 what it would mean to the victims … if you had been successful in facilitating early release of this convicted offender?”

George answered: “That fact that he would never function as a priest again was what most of the victims I spoke to were most concerned about, Not whether he was in prison or not.”

The deposition also included heartfelt letters George wrote to Maday. In the most recent letter dated Feb. 4, 2002, George wrote, “We have tried, as you know, a number of avenues to see if your sentence might be reduced or parole given early … I personally hope you will not lose hope.”

When asked about the correspondence, George said, “This is a father’s letter to a son in prison, a sinful son and it was designed to give him some hope and encouragement.”

The cardinal was also asked why he wrote letters to perpetrators and not to victims.

He answered, “Because somebody has to tell me information that I might base a letter on and it isn’t always sure what a victim will make of such a letter. Sometimes, victims resent being addressed by a bishop out of the blue. We ask the victim when can the cardinal apologize, when can the cardinal come into the process. That is asked right at the beginning.”

At the news conference on Wednesday, Therese Albrecht, one of Bennett’s alleged victims, said she would have appreciated a letter or meeting with George.

“I would have loved to receive a letter from the cardinal. I would like to have that chance to ask questions about my case. That would be part of my healing process,” she said [source].

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August 13, 2008 - Posted by | Catholic Church, Church Scandals, Sex Abuse

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