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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cardinal Sins

posted by on November 13 at 12:09 PM

The next time some dimwitted representative of the Catholic Church attempts to lecture you about your sexual orientation and ethics, or your legal and consensual sexual practices, ask ‘em to explain how Cardinal George of Chicago managed to get his child-rape-enabling ass elected as the head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

NPR had a great story this morning. George, “[an] outspoken advocate for cleaning up the sex-abuse crisis in the church,” did nothing to stop Father Daniel McCormack, a Chicago priest, from raping boys. And, yes, the Archdiocese knew all about it.

The boy told [his mother] that at least twice in December 2003, McCormack cornered him, put his hands down the boy’s pants and fondled him. When she heard this, the mother says she called Leah McCluskey, the official in the archdiocese in charge of abuse investigations. She still has the phone records; one call lasted 22 minutes.

She says McCluskey promised to investigate. Under the zero-tolerance policies that Cardinal George promoted, the archdiocese was required at this point to call the police.

But the archdiocese didn’t call the police—and guess what? This wasn’t the first time someone reported Father McCormack to the Archdiocese.

In 1992, two men and one minor accused McCormack of sexually abusing them while he was in seminary. A letter is put in McCormack’s seminary file. That letter has disappeared.

In October 1999, the assistant principal at the school where McCormack taught informed the Office of Catholic Schools and the archdiocese that McCormack had allegedly abused a fourth-grade boy. She says she later wrote a letter and delivered it to the archdiocese. The investigator never found the letter. Church officials say they never received it.

In September 2003, a woman called the archdiocese and reported that her grandson was molested by McCormack. She left her phone number but not her name.

At no time did the archdiocese call the police.

But Father McCormack eventually got busted—he’s in prison now—so someone did the right thing eventually, right? Yes. But it wasn’t Cardinal George or anyone at the archdiocese.

“My assistant principal called me and said, ‘We’ve got a problem,” recalls Principal Westrick. “She said, ‘This kid says he’s been molested by Father Dan.’ I said, ‘I’ll be right over.’”

Westrick immediately called the parents, the police and the archdiocese. McCormack was arrested Jan. 20, 2006. In March 2006—only after McCormack’s arrest and 14 years after the first complaint—Cardinal George publicly apologized.

Westrick called the parents, the police, and the archdiocese—in that order. Thank God Westrick didn’t call the archdiocese first. Someone at the archdiocese was protecting McCormack—where did those letters go? records of phone calls?—and the archdiocese might have prevented Westrick, an employee of the archdiocese, from calling the cops. Only after Cardinal George’s archdiocese could no longer cover up for Father McCormack, moving him to new schools and parishes where he could go on raping and fondling children, did Cardinal George apologize. And what does Cardinal George have to say for himself?

“I should have found at least some fashion in the canons to remove provisionally Father McCormack,” he said in a press conference after releasing the results of two investigations that showed how the McCormack case went wrong. “I take responsibility for not doing that, and I’m saddened by my own failure, very much so.”

The cardinal is sad. Boo fucking hoo for the cardinal.

Good God. Cardinal George says he would’ve removed Father McCormack if only he could’ve found some provision in the canons, or church law, that allowed him to do so. Well, gee. Are we supposed to understand that there’s nothing in church law that specifically forbids raping children? Never mind that raping kids is against the law in the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the United States of America, and that priests and cardinals are subject to those laws. Instead of pouring over the canons—no doubt tearing his hair out in frustration—George could’ve called the fucking police. You know, just like that principal did and just like George’s own policies on the abuse of children require him to.

Let’s face facts, shall we?

Someone inside the Chicago archdiocese was protecting a known pedophile and a serial child rapist. And someone in addition to Father McCormack needs to go to jail. When is a prosecutor going to launch an investigation into the conduct of the Catholic Church—into one of these coverups—and indict some of the motherfuckers that let it happen? Or are conspiracies and pedophile rings somehow less criminal when the child rapists and their accomplices claim to be Jesus Christ’s representatives on earth?

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In fairness, Dan, there's also the rampant alcoholism to consider. That'll affect your judgment.

Posted by MvB | November 13, 2007 12:00 PM

Yeah, I've never understood the "we have our own laws, thanks anyway" approach of the Church. Call the fucking cops FIRST. It's got nothing to do with the diocese.

Posted by Fnarf | November 13, 2007 12:01 PM

Or are conspiracies and pedophile rings somehow less criminal when child rapists and their accomplices claim to be Jesus Christís representatives on earth?

Yes. That was Don Juan's essential realization in Moliere's play, and also one of Moliere's favorite topics.

Seriously, though, nail the fuckers. I want to see a raging storm of subpoenas, search warrants, arrests. Find out who did it and put them on trial for it. In public. Then, if they're convicted, put them away for a long time.

Posted by Greg | November 13, 2007 12:19 PM

Gotta wonder about other hypocrisies in that group. I wonder for instance what happens if a nun get pregnant (say by a member of the clergy) and decides to have an abortion. Think she would be protected by the higher-ups? Would mamma superior cover for her?

Also I do not buy the booze defense for this or any sexual assault.

Posted by Bishop Batshit | November 13, 2007 12:23 PM

Word to the wise- spelling errors are that much more apparent when they're bold.

(And sometimes spell check doesn't work)

I know Slog is spontaneous and all that, but nothing undermines an author faster than a spelling mistake.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | November 13, 2007 12:38 PM

I am in no way defending the actions of the Archdiocese of Chicago, or of Cardinal George, but to answer the question of what the church thinks about their actions, the idea is that it is necessary to follow church law. While you would think the love thy neighbor would get to be the most important, since Jesus said it was, when they look at situations like this the focus is on forgiveness. One of the basic tenets of the church is the idea that G-d (through the church) forgives all sins if the person is truly repenent. This is the justification for re-locationing of priests, that they sinned but repented, and thus deserve G-d's and the church's forgiveness. The idea that G-d alone can not only forgive a man's sins, but cure him of his sinful desires then leds to the lack of therapy or any sort of check-up on people who have been moved after confessing their sins. They also, of course, just accept the perpetrators claim that they are sorry and will not do it again.

Posted by Megan W | November 13, 2007 12:40 PM

@6 - That is the most G-d d-mned f-cked up sh-t I've heard in my m-therf-cking life, G-d d-mmit.

Seriously though, unless you're a wig-wearing, long skirts-only, doesn't ride a bike on Saturdays Orthodox Jew, just type God, God dammit.

Posted by Providence | November 13, 2007 12:51 PM

Megan W @6,

"when they look at situations like this the focus is on forgiveness"

Yes, but I would add that by choosing to focus on forgiveness, church officials also have struck on a great strategy for keeping their names out of the mud.

Wow, aren't coincidences like that neat?

Posted by Irena | November 13, 2007 12:52 PM

Keep on preaching about this Dan! This shit sucks and needs to be exposed and stopped. This is seriously fucked up!

Posted by Suz | November 13, 2007 12:53 PM

A question and a comment...

Is child molesting the same thing as rape? (For some reason I thought some body part of the molestor had to penetrate the molestee to be considered rape... Maybe I'm just too old.)

I like the "G-D" spelling. Reminds me of my dog-training lists, where many people "thank doG".

Posted by Ayden | November 13, 2007 1:00 PM

Catholic Church = Mafia

Posted by Westside forever | November 13, 2007 1:19 PM

More question...

If the molestee is gay - and maybe finds the molestation 'welcome' - does it still count as molesting and and/or rape?

What's tha age cut-off? (Cut-on?)

Posted by Ayden | November 13, 2007 1:21 PM

Megan: no, it doesn't matter one teeny tiny bit what it says in church law. Church law doesn't supercede the LAW law. The question of what THE CHURCH should do about molester priests is moot; molesting a child is against the LAW law, and a cop ought to be there arresting the SOB before the bishop ever hears about it. And in a court, nobody gives a shit what it says in the canon. Nor should they.

Posted by Fnarf | November 13, 2007 1:29 PM

Billions of dollars in settlements have been paid by the Catholic church to those whom they've grievously harmed in mind (religious brainwashing) just as much as in body (fondling, fingering and fucking of trustworthy minors).

Fortunately, the Catholic church has endless resources, but with further exposes and expensive settlements sure to come, slicing up the Sistine Chapel ceiling into souvenir plates and hawking them on e-Bay will provide ready cash for countless prosecutable revelations yet unrevealed.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | November 13, 2007 1:30 PM

Since these problems don't arise in Orthodox churches, can they still seriously argue that celibacy has nothing to do with it?

Posted by Gitai | November 13, 2007 1:32 PM

What I want to know is why McCormack is only serving 5 years.

Posted by Amy Jo | November 13, 2007 1:35 PM

The Catholic Church is a racketeering conspiracy, plain and simple. They all agreed to hide, enable, foster, and protect child rapists and child molestors. They commit fraud on a daily basis by soliciting funds from parishioners telling the lie that they are a religious organization.

It's all about lies, money and power. It's the same as the mafia. God damn them all to hell.

Posted by unPC | November 13, 2007 1:51 PM

The cops arrested the pervert and then let him go. What was the cardinal supposed to do?

Notice that all the pedophiles have Irish surnames, btw.

Posted by no irish pastors for me | November 13, 2007 3:29 PM

According to the Illinois Dept of Corrections, McCormack was convicted of 5 counts, yes 5, of aggravated sexual abuse victim less than 13 yr. He received 5 years for each count, but his parole date is less than 2.5 years of his initial incarceration.
Maybe Catholic thought has changed? When I was
in Catholic school, I got more time than that for chewing gum in church.
I hope his fellow inmates aren't as forgiving as his church.

Posted by Joy | November 13, 2007 4:11 PM


Yes. My bff worked in a clinic for years, and she said they got nuns and missionaries (and the same young women who protested outside every weekend) all the time. Many were repeats. She told me that they always freaked out on her and asked if she thought God would forgive them.

Posted by kristin | November 13, 2007 8:36 PM

@ 17 - yeah, it sounds like this cardinal asshole could be tried pretty easily under RICO, although it'd be the ballsy Chicago/Illinois prosecutor who'd try that.

@ 19 - no way a pedophile priest doesn't get placed in protective custody.

Posted by Andrew | November 13, 2007 10:56 PM

More outrageousness from Cardinal George in the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Cardinal Francis George and one of his top bishops are stirring up controversy because of statements they recently made criticizing lawsuits from victims of priest sexual abuse."

In a letter obtained by the Sun-Times, the cardinal earlier this year wrote to the parents of a victim and apologized "for the terrible abuse suffered by your son at the hands of Ken Ruge and Robert Becker," two Chicago area priests who are now dead.

The cardinal also wrote that money was the motivation for proposed state legislation that would allow adults who were abused by priests as children to sue their perpetrators in cases where statutes of limitation have expired.

"This is irresponsible, is not about the safety of children as the sponsor claims, and is clearly, to me at least, about money," he wrote."

The article also contains this astounding bit:

"Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Paprocki said in a sermon to lawyers recently that abuse suits undermine "the charitable works and religious freedom of the church." The Chicago bishop, who said he is George's representative on the review board that scrutinizes abuse allegations, wants some protection for charities.

"This attack is particularly directed against bishops and priests," he said, adding that the principal force behind the attacks "is none other than the devil.",CST-NWS-Arch13.article

Posted by Polly | November 14, 2007 2:45 AM

"True freedom will come when the last brick falls off of the last church and kills the last priest"

Posted by ture freedom | November 14, 2007 8:07 AM

Well, at least they are going to Hell. They have that to look forward to.

Seriously though, I had to listen to my neighbors whine about how people condemn the whole Catholic church unfairly because of this stuff. Is it just me or is that totally lame? Seems like with how often it happens and how much has been covered up, that there's no way to say this is a fringe thing that shouldn't affect the Church's reputation.

Posted by Just Some Guy | November 14, 2007 8:41 AM

Your child gets molested and you call the church instead of the cops? Wow, those Catholics really know how to control the flock.

Posted by chi type | November 14, 2007 11:10 AM

So...seriously. How many kids need to get molested for people to realize that this whole church thing is psychologically unhealthy and just generally fucked up?

Posted by laureney | November 14, 2007 10:57 PM

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