Pontifications

Pontifications


Scandal in Chicagoland

posted by David Gibson

Cardinal George & Pope Benedict.jpgThe Chicago Tribune has the disturbing deposition by Cardinal Francis George and other coverage detailing what is being described as a “cover-up” of an abusive priest–but AFTER George presided over the passage of the 2002 charter to protect children, and AFTER he said he had cleared out any abusive priests in accord with the charter. And George is now present of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and was the churchman who welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the U.S. in April and assured everything was being done to make sure the scandal never happened again. The this comes out in the wake of this week’s civil settlement with victims. Here’s the Trib on a couple of cases, namely convicted child molester Daniel McCormack:

In his deposition, George revealed under oath the steps, missteps and lies that led to McCormack’s tenure at St. Agatha years after initial allegations of misconduct surfaced during his seminary days. According to the document, as many as 23 people have alleged abuse by McCormack, who is now serving a 5-year prison sentence.
The allegations against McCormack spurred the archdiocese to commission an independent 2006 audit of what went wrong in the case.
In the deposition, the cardinal also detailed church deception and coverup in the Bennett investigation–facts omitted from that audit.
Standing before television cameras Tuesday, the cardinal once again said he was sorry for not acting sooner and promised more transparency.
“In the sense I’m responsible for this archdiocese, I have to accept the blame,” George said.
The eight-hour, 305-page transcript of George and Anderson taken in January displayed a wide range of emotions from remorse to defensiveness. In the sometimes confrontational exchange, the cardinal also blamed other institutions for allowing McCormack to go free, including police, prosecutors and child welfare officials.
He defended the archdiocese’s actions regarding the delayed removal of Bennett from Holy Ghost parish in South Holland in February 2006. Bennett’s removal was prompted by the widening McCormack scandal.
In the investigation of Bennett, the deposition finds the cardinal and church officials received four detailed allegations of sexual abuse dating back to 2002. But they did not act to remove Bennett from his church until 2006, despite two recommendations from the archdiocese review board months earlier, according to the deposition.
Instead, Bennett was placed under the supervision of a monitor, Rev. Leonard Dubi, who apparently was Bennett’s close friend. George disregarded a recommendation by an archdiocese review board to remove Bennett in October 2005 and again in November, attributing the delay to the priest’s lack of representation by a canon lawyer.
By the time he was removed, the deposition reveals, more than a dozen allegations had mounted against the priest–a fact the archdiocese failed to tell parishioners and the public.
George’s testimony and church correspondence on Bennett also indicated that the archdiocese’s vicar for priests, Rev. Edward Grace, himself a lawyer, played a role in coaching clergy to deny allegations.
In 2002, a male victim voluntarily underwent a lie-detector test that showed he was telling the truth. The cardinal says he never received that information. In 2003, a female victim tells archdiocese officials specific details about freckles on Bennett’s scrotum and a round birthmark on his back that led an archdiocese review board to conclude that sexual abuse “did happen.”
Grace advised Bennett on how to handle the victim’s knowledge of his private parts, according to a memo. According to the testimony, Grace told Bennett in November 2005 to get a note from a dermatologist questioning whether the scrotum marks might be “aging marks” and may not have been present at the time of the allegation.
The victims’ attorney, Anderson, asks the cardinal about the freckles matter, saying: “Grace is–looks like he’s trying to explain it away. Do you read it that way?”
George responds: “It could be read that way.”
The cardinal said Grace and George Rassas–then vicar general, now auxiliary bishop–also withheld information about allegations before McCormack’s promotion to a supervisory role days after his August 2005 arrest, actions for which a letter of reprimand was placed in their file.
At several points in the questioning about Bennett, Anderson asked the cardinal whether he is more concerned about the rights of accused priests and the legal process than he is about protecting children at risk.

This could explode, especially if criminal charges come in under the statute of limitations. It could also seriously undermined much of the progress that has been made.
H/T to dotCommonweal.



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ed gleason

posted August 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm


VOTF was on to the cover-up by Cardinal George on all these charges early on…a call for his resignation was debated and we [VOTF] could not get parish pew Catholics to demand accountability from the hierarchy.What lever can be used to move reform forward? Reform does not take place without a lever placed in a vital painful spot..And ‘Don’t say money’ because the hierarchy has enough to last for their 10 year tenure. Passive pew Catholics are just like the “Good Germans1941′ as they watched their Jewish neighbors rounded up. At least the Good Germans were up against armed men… and walking away is not courage either..



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Little Bear

posted August 15, 2008 at 10:22 pm


The problem is that the “passive pew Catholics” don’t 1) believe that all the accusations against priest accused are for real—they believe that folks are just trying to get money from the church. 2) The average pew Catholic doesn’t care about abuse claims unless it personally affects them and 3) the average pew Catholic only cares that they have someone to marry them, baptize and sacramentalize their kids, and bury them—oh, and have Mass over the week-ends. They don’t want to “get into the politics of the Church—leave that to the priests, bishops and the pope.”
With an attitude like that….the hierarchy can rest easy. Accountability will not be demanded of them for decades and decades and decades.



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DG

posted August 16, 2008 at 6:09 am


I believe that the problem is resignation. We all know that there is no accountability within the magisterial structure of the church. Thousands of letters, petitions and other documents have been forwarded to the pope and various councils, each generating the same result …. no response, no action. These and other Vatican actions consistently show the same thing, they DO NOT care about the safety and welfare of those entrusted into their care.
It is sad to say, the only thing the Vatican seems to respond to is strategically applied blunt force trauma to a sensitive part of their corporate anatomy. Today, that trauma is in the form of multi-million lawsuits, criminal prosecution of the clergy, and public humiliation in the press and rebellion against papal authority. It would be wonderful if the magisterial authorities would listen and act, but they dont. They are too busy pontificating their infallibility to admit they might be in error. Too busy trying to find scapegoats and straw men to blame for their problems. Too busy protecting their corporate image to put the needs of their flocks first.
The laity is not up against armed men, however it is up against a corporate bully, an archaic fuedalistic structure run by men who simply do not care. Dealing with armed men would be a lot easier. At least they can be overpowered and their weapons taken. How does one overpower a sovereign nation state ruled by a dictator with absolute power and diplomatic immunity?



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Joe Texas

posted August 16, 2008 at 12:33 pm


In response to the comment posted at 6:09am on 8-16-08, and as feedback to the original article itself, which seemed a bit slanted, the following attached article is presented to suggest that abuse is more than a Catholic problem.
Paraphrasing the comments that “it’s not about money” may not be totally accurate. Lawyers accept cases against Catholics for many reasons. One strong reason is the perception that the Catholic Church is now a very easy target – with deep pockets if the Bishop and Diocese can be attached. This is especially true when compared to individual Ministers and Churches of most all other faiths that are decentralized with limited resources to attach to by lawyers and their clients.
It may also be Satan and his menions successfully tempting a small miniority of Priests to bring down 100% of the Catholic Church. There are strong powers at work on the human and spiritual levels, some motivated in a constructive manner, most in a destructive one.
It should also be mentioned that the comment about Church abuse is not a matter of papal infallability. Abusive action is wrong, but the writer may have a deeper axe to grind, including but not limited to:
1. A deep concern to see the situation fixed by the Church.
2. A person previously impacted, directly or indirectly, by abuse.
3. A person who misunderstands or dislikes the Catholic Church.
Now for the attached article provided, but not written, by the Knights of Columbus:
James Cardinal Hickey Council #14056
• 207 Ashman
• Midland, Michigan, 48640
• e mail: query@saintbrigidkofc.org
Please note this was not written by a Catholic.
Proud of Being Catholic
Excerpts of an article written by Sam Miller,
prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman -( NOT CATHOLIC )
Submitted by Dee Lynd.
18 April 2008
Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?
Do you know – the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to your Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. Your graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%, all at a cost to you. To the rest of the Americans it’s free.
The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students. The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people – not just Catholics – in the United States today.
But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.
Let me give you some figures that you as Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8 % of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed. Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic problem.
A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnox ious PR the church has been receiving.
The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.
Walk with your shoulders high and you head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States. -Then remember what was written in Jeremiah:’Thus says the Lord: Stand by the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old. Which is the way to good, and walk it; thus you will find rest for your souls.’ (Jer 6: 16).
Be Proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.
…… Be Proud That You’re A Catholic……



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ed gleason

posted August 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm


I can’t leave the above post to have the last word namely
‘EVERYBOBODY DOES IT’& ‘The Devil made them do it crap’
Cardinal George will be up before a Grand Jury.. Chicago Catholics will demand it. 75 years ago Elliot Ness was sent in to clean up the ‘untouchables’. I predict Cardinal George’s demise will be bigger than Law’s runaway to Rome. By the way Joe Texas …it’s 5000 priests,[in the USA] 10s of thousands of survivors and a 2 billion dollars..



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Tom

posted August 16, 2008 at 11:07 pm


With all do respect Little Bear, where do you get your feedback as to what the average ‘pew Catholic’ does or doesn’t feel/believe? You seem to be indicating that the average ‘pew Catholic’ is incapable of the slightest smidgit of empathy or humanity. They’re just heartless creatons only concerned about their own perceived injustices. Did you conduct a survey outside of Catholic pews across America? Being a pew Catholic, I know a lot of other pew Catholics, none of whom exibit the three criteria that you listed.
P.S. The Catholic Church is not a democracy governed by the majority will of ‘pew Catholics’ even if what you alleged was even remotely true. Even though the vast majority of ‘pew Catholics’ practice contraception, it doesn’t nullify the Vatican’s decree of such practice as mortal sin. The hierarchy tightened up the screening process of prospective clergy and catch plenty of heat for the ongoing shortage of clergy resulting from the sex-abuse scandal.



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Neville Ross

posted August 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm


Let’s face it: most pew Catholics are not people, but sheeple-people who are sheep, who will do what they’re told to do, mostly because they seem to have no will of their own due to general indifference, hardheartedness, or something that I can’t put my finger on right now. All of what Little Bear said is right, only he didn’t use my terminology. And sadly, the term ‘sheeple’ applies to most North Americans.
There should be protests aplenty, mass refusals to let things stand as they are, and mass resignations from Catholicism, but the sheeple can’t seem to get off of their spotty, crud-encrusted behinds to do anything except go about their lives, either wholly or in part because of the lazy corporate ‘liberal’ (ha! It’s completely neoconservative) media, who can’t even do their jobs with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan (BTW, where is the church on these issues?) Moreover, as soon as the true news starts to come up, the church and the Establishment divert attention by focusing on gay marriage and abortion, which the Catholic sheeple lap up like so much sweet cream or Kool-Whip. Oh, they can be concerned with child sexual abuse, but only and always in the context of art that they can barely understand, which they then attack as directed by law enforcement and the neocon establishment. Meanwhile, the church can allow priests to molest children at will, and shuffle them around when the heat’s turned up.
As with the Iraq/Afghanistan war and the environment, so with this issue. What else is new?



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Little Bear

posted August 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm


With all due respect, Tom, I am an “insider” who works with hundreds and hundreds of Catholics over a wide area. Most “pew Catholics” don’t know what is going in other dioceses within their own state, never mind across the country or world. Diocesan newspapers are quite restrictive in what they publish about what is going on in the Catholic world, especially if there is a controversy where cardinals are not looking as clean as the pristine snow. And those Catholics who don’t get on Catholic web-sites like this one—have a really restricted point of view.
Secondly, your comment about “the Catholic Church is not a democracy” is stale bread. The truth is that throughout history, Church thought and behavior have always been influenced by the culture at large. The Church is “the People of God”. It does not just belong to the hierarchy. In America, as well as in other democratic nations, the people DO expect their Church to be more democratic.
Here are some statistics: In parish life in the United states, about eighty percent of Roman Catholics want a voice in spending of the parish income. After all, they are paying the bills. And over seventy percent would like to have a voice in the appointment of priests to a parish. Research conducted by Bernard J. Lee, The Catholic Experience of Small Christian Communities (New York: Paulist Press. 2000) p. 68. But this is on a parish level—which is where most Catholics are really concerned.
To achieve real changes in the Church, all Catholics need to look beyond just their parishes, and exercise their baptismal calling and demand change, demanding accountablility of their pastors and bishops, and making their voices known to their bishops.



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Anonymous

posted August 21, 2008 at 8:32 am


Little Bear, you state that you are an “insider”. What do you mean by that?



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Victoria Martin

posted August 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm


So much evil in one church. They talk about refusing Holy Communion to those who support abortion. These clergy perverts and the bishops and superiors who enabled them, should be refused the Blessed Sacrament as well. Just as abortion kills (murders) the unborn fetus, so the priests, brothers, deacons, nuns and lay teachers of the catholic church, have murdered the bodies, minds and spirits of the children of our church. There is NO redemption for causing so much pain.



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Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

posted August 21, 2008 at 2:38 pm


It is a sad fact that neither Cardinal George nor any of his underlings will be held criminally responsible for what they have done.
They should all be held criminally responsible and many of them should be in jaio.
The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church as a group have done the adult victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests, the other good priests, those of us in ministry and all the People of God the most horrific disservice they could possibly have done.
I find it embarrassing that George is still trying to make excuses for himself. Individuals like McCormack should remain in jail for twenty-five years, not five.
George should submit his resignation now. Without the integrity and characher that would put children’s welfare first his effectiveness as a spiritual leader is gone.
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com



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Anonymous

posted August 22, 2008 at 2:28 am


Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times
August 15, 2008
GEORGE JUST ANOTHER ENABLER
From Boston to Los Angeles, billions of dollars have been spent in attempts to avoid public revelation of files and records of known sexual predators and depositions of the some of the highest U.S. Catholic Church leaders.
Now we are able to read the deposition of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who remains the archbishop of Chicago as well as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it is damming beyond belief.
Our church leaders protected and enabled known rapists and child molesters for much of their clerical careers while giving no thought to the trail of broken bodies and souls these sociopaths left in their wake.
Can one believe the excuses and rationalizations that would indicate an incompetence beyond belief or is George yet another archetypal figure representing a clerical system corrupted beyond imagination?
Should anyone accept George’s words when he says, “I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community?”
No, not until he submits his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. Until then those words remain hollow.
He is just another enabler.
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com



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Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

posted August 22, 2008 at 2:29 am


Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times
August 15, 2008
GEORGE JUST ANOTHER ENABLER
From Boston to Los Angeles, billions of dollars have been spent in attempts to avoid public revelation of files and records of known sexual predators and depositions of the some of the highest U.S. Catholic Church leaders.
Now we are able to read the deposition of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who remains the archbishop of Chicago as well as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it is damming beyond belief.
Our church leaders protected and enabled known rapists and child molesters for much of their clerical careers while giving no thought to the trail of broken bodies and souls these sociopaths left in their wake.
Can one believe the excuses and rationalizations that would indicate an incompetence beyond belief or is George yet another archetypal figure representing a clerical system corrupted beyond imagination?
Should anyone accept George’s words when he says, “I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community?”
No, not until he submits his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. Until then those words remain hollow.
He is just another enabler.
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com



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pagansister

posted August 24, 2008 at 7:48 pm


There is absolutely NO excuse for George’s actions, and he should be booted out of the RCC. Apology NOT accepted. There is so much arrogance among the “leaders” in the RCC, he probably figured he’d never get blamed for not getting rid of the molesting priest(s).
But of course, Bishop Lay got rewarded by being sent to the Vatican. That’s justice??? I think not. Strange punishment for the ones who never took care of situations that should never have happened in the first place.



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