Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Support Remains Strong

The Survivors Network Against Priests, or SNAP, is staying the course, as self appointed judge, jury and executioner. SNAP somehow assumed a delusional sense of authority as they called for George's resignation Saturday after learning that a church-appointed review board made an informal recommendation that the Archdiocese of Chicago remove Rev. Daniel McCormack from St. Agatha Church on the West Side in October, about three months before McCormack's arrest in January on molestation charges.

Unlike SNAP, Cardinal George made a decision based on all of the information he had at the time. He has admitted that everyone involved should have been more aggressive in getting firsthand information and has since taken measures to improve its protocols.

George, who presided over Sunday mass at St. Michael Archangel Church on the South Side, did not address the controversy. Instead, he focused parishioners on the meaning of Lent, and asked for prayers and promised to pray for those in attendance.

After mass, parishioner Rhonda Grayson that SNAP has gone "too far" in calling for George's resignation. "I feel like he's appointed by God and God will sort it out," Grayson said.

Tom Utrata said that although each new abuse allegation feels like a "wound reopening," George stepping down would not solve anything. "Flaws in the system have been discovered and they need to be tightened up," Utrata said. "I feel for the cardinal and for all the priests and the victims."

During a news conference Sunday outside Holy Name Cathedral on the Near North Side, SNAP President Barbara Blaine demanded that George reveal the identities of the nine-member review board. She said victims would feel more comfortable coming forward if they knew that board members were not associates of suspects, she said. "We know Cardinal George is not doing a good job," Blaine said. "We know children are recklessly being put at risk." Tensions erupted into a confrontation between parishioners and SNAP members at the end of the news conference at Holy Name Cathedral.

In my opinion, some of those in authority of SNAP appear motivated by their own activist agenda, and are using victims as mere pawns in their mission to dismantle the Catholic Church.

Chicago Tribune

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Chicagoans show support for Cardinal George this Sunday

Newsradio WBBM 780 reports:

Cardinal George Gets Sympathetic Hearing At South Chicago Church

St. Michael's Church in the 8200 block of South Shore Drive was more packed than normal during Sunday morning's 9:30 service. That's because parishioners wanted to hear what Cardinal George had to say.

While the church leader didn't address the priest sex abuse scandal during his sermon, people like Martha Andrez says that's OK.

She echoes the comments of other parishioners here, who think he should stay on as head of the Chicago Archdiocese.

Read the rest.

February 26 - Update on situation in Chicago

Local Catholics continue to support Cardinal George despite SNAP's recent call for his resignation:

CBS 2 Chicago has the story (with video):

(CBS) CHICAGO Despite an advocacy group's call for Francis Cardinal George's resignation regarding his handling of a Chicago priest sex abuse scandal, some local Catholics say they still support their leader.

"He should not step down because I think that the church is more than just the cardinal," said Holy Name Cathedral parishioner Gay Thomas. "And his leadership has been in line with the way the church works."

Added Holy Name parishioner Dave Archibald: "I do support Cardinal George, and I think that we all just need to pray about it and that he's doing the best he can and hopefully will do ever better."


A spokesman for the Archdiocese has said that SNAP has no authority to call for George's resignation and that the cardinal will not be resigning.

"The cardinal has acknowledged that they should have acted faster and he has taken steps to strengthen their procedures," the Archdiocese spokesman added.


"...SNAP members went door to door handing out flyers calling for people in the neighborhood surrounding St. Agatha's to push for the Cardinal's resignation."

Read the rest.

An interesting quote from Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP:

Blaine did not indicate whom she believes would be a good replacement [for Cardinal George], or whether it should be one of the Cardinal's auxiliary bishops. But she said she believed any archbishop appointed by Pope Benedict would want to "clean up this mess."
Is Blain seriously claiming that John Paul II, who made Cardinal George the archbishop of Chicago - wanted this type of mess? Or would not want it cleaned up?

I believe this quote (and others) demonstrate that SNAP's call for Cardinal George's resignation is not balanced with any sort of serious attempt to constructively make things better - as Cardinal George, on the other hand, has been doing, through words and action.

As for the possibility of resignation - first, it is not Cardinal George's choice to make (the most he could do is submit a letter of resignation to Pope Benedict) and second, there has been absolutely no sign that Pope Benedict would accept a resignation or ask for it in the first place.

For a group that claims to have the answer to the problems of the Catholic Church - SNAP is demonstrating a recurrent and deep ignorance of the institution they alone can supposedly heal.

Pope Benedict blesses stoles for Mission Chicago

[photo caption:
"Pope Benedict XVI blesses priests' stoles for Fr. Robert Barron during a recent papal audience. The stoles will be used during the special "24 Hours of Grace" project March 3-4 during which about 70 priests will staff six archdiocesan parishes around the clock to encourage individual reconciliation."]

News story:
"24 hours of Grace" part of Archdiocese's Evangelization focus this lent.

Chicago (February 23, 2006) For a 24-hour period, March 3-4, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago, whether they have been active or not, will have an opportunity at six locations throughout the Archdiocese to participate in individual reconciliation.

The project, “24 Hours of Grace,” is part of Mission Chicago, an effort to focus on evangelization in the Archdiocese. This event will offer Catholics the opportunity to visit one of six parishes that will be open and staffed around the clock with priests hearing confessions and administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation for 24 hours beginning at 9 a.m., March 3, through 9 a.m., March 4.

Organized by Fr. Robert Barron, who begins a series of Lenten missions across the Archdiocese this week, this special period is a means of providing a way for people to come back to a stronger participation in the faith life of the Church. Approximately 70 priests have been recruited for “24 Hours of Grace”.

The parishes that will be part of “24 Hours of Grace” include: St. Mary, Lake Forest; St. Monica, Chicago’s Northwest Side; Holy Trinity Polish Mission, Northwest Chicago; Our Lady of Tepeyac, Chicago’s West Side; St. Frances of Rome, Cicero; and St. Catherine of Alexandria, Oak Lawn.

Complete information on the special missions of Fr. Robert Barron and other evangelization activities at parishes and schools in the Archdiocese during Lent is available at www.archchicago.org.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Editor of the Catholic World Report supports CGF's SNAP analysis

Domenic Bettinelli, editor of the Catholic World Report, today posted about our recent response to SNAP on his personal weblog:

Speaking of SNAP

"Speaking of the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priest, they sent an open letter to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in which they demand that the cardinal throw out canon law and Church teaching and act like a dictator when it comes to allegations of sexual abuse."

Read the rest.

DCFS failed to notify archdiocese in priest abuse case

An important story...

From the Chicago Tribune:

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services apparently violated its own policies when it failed to notify Catholic officials the agency had found credible evidence that a West Side pastor had abused a child, according to a Tribune review of DCFS procedures.

Agency policies available online state that if DCFS investigates a person who is in a job that puts him in frequent contact with children, the agency is required to notify employers about the allegations of abuse and the result of the investigation. If the person works for a school, the school administrator must be told.

But DCFS has said it did not notify Cardinal Francis George, other Chicago archdiocese officials or the school where Rev. Daniel McCormack worked that it was investigating him, and it also did not tell them the outcome of the investigation.

Read the rest.

Cardinal George collaborates with priest in New Evangelization efforts

Winnetka talk has the story:

Priest set to bring Catholics back

Sundays, for the vast majority of Chicagoland Roman Catholics, are spent anywhere but in a church.

It's not a new trend. Only about one in five of the 2.3 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago -- and that number is down 5 percent since 1990 -- attend Mass.

Rev. Robert Barron has been asked to change this.

Cardinal Francis George approached the 46-year-old theology professor at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein last November and said he wanted Barron to "jump-start evangelization."

Read the rest.

On SNAP and Accountability

Shelray over at Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex has an excellent post this morning providing a little more insight into SNAP. It seems that this group that claims concern for truth and justice has been guilty of publicly accusing priests of sexual abuse even before any police investigations are undertaken. So far, a couple of dozen priests SNAP has publicly accused have been exonerated when the police have investigated. Is there any accountability on the part of SNAP? You would think they might want to demonstrate some...but go see what Shelray reports that they have to say on the matter.

If wasn't already, it should be coming much clearer that SNAP has an agenda against Catholic priests and the Church. SNAP demonstrates that they cannot be trusted with telling the truth. Crying wolf a couple of times maybe, but 24 times... It's time for a more responsible advocacy group to step in because SNAP has shown itself to be unprincipled and incompetent, and in truth, not much different than the predators they claim to be trying to weed out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The "victim advocacy group," SNAP, just sent an open letter to Cardinal George demanding some changes. The changes they demand are explicitly not in the Archdiocesan child abuse policies but rather demands for changes in Church governance; more on this later. In the letter they claim to identify seven priests as credible child abusers who were not previously identified as such. They spin the scant information that they provide in a way to make is appear to support their claim that "It's the Cardinal's flawed actions, not his flawed policies," that are the problem.

As I stated in an earlier post, the public information is currently insufficient to draw any other conclusion but that Cardinal George made sound decisions based upon the information he had available at the time...that is unless you are predisposed to doubt his credibility in which case suspicion can lead one to any sort of speculations. Pathological suspicion appears to be SNAP's most obvious motivation. Therefore, I think it appropriate to focus on SNAP's letter because it appears to me that their agenda comes through quite clearly in it.

As I stated, SNAP is not interested in a new or improved policy. Rather, they seem to be driven by ideology. In their view, the Church and Her structure are the fundamental problems, apparently because it is not built on the American democratic model (obviously, there needs to be checks and balances in any purely human system of governance). This is how they describe the Church hierarchy and the authority of the bishop in explaining why they think Fr. MacCormack could have been removed in August 2005, even though the police found no evidence to substantiate any charges:
The Catholic church is a monarchy. In Chicago, you are the king. Priests have no union. You can suspend a priest anytime for anything. To claim otherwise is ludicrous. (Does anyone really think these priests would have remained in active ministry for years while your staff allegedly investigated allegations that they stole money or advocated abortion?)
The only thing ludicrous here is their assertion about the structure of the Church and a bishop's authority. It reveals that they let their biases get in the way of even doing the most basic research. Their view that the Church structure is an absolute monarchy reflects an ignorance of basic ecclesiology (they might try reading Lumen gentium) and their claims that a bishop's authority over his diocese is arbitrary and absolute shows an ignorance of Canon Law (perhaps they might consult CIC 1740-1753).

This is why they are not interested in any new policies. They do not trust the Church. They demand that non-Catholic authorities be brought in to advise the Church on changes to be made. Why must they be non-Catholic except for pathological suspicion? They claim that they cannot trust that any useful changes that have been made since 2002 because it is the same bishops who caused the problem who have implemented the changes to fix it. The John Jay study shows that the problems occured before most current bishops were installed, but even so, to paint all bishops as guilty for the sins of a few reflects pathological suspicion. Thus, they already knows the answer and so they demand:

Cardinal George, after years and years of scandal, we have sadly become convinced it's not the church's procedures that are flawed, it's the church's leadership that is flawed. (And it will remain flawed until lay people insist on real change, not cosmetic, paper "reforms.")

So this is what SNAP is about. They are doing the bidding of dissenters using Saul Alinsky types of tactics because they have an issue in which the press revels. I understand that abuse manifests an inability to trust and if SNAP's leadership is comprised primarily of abused victims themselves, it is understandable (though not justifiable) why they have adopted a Protestant ecclesiology. Their alliance with Voice of the (un)Faithful does not help any either. Reforming the Church into a democracy is not possible, nor would it help any way. By and large, that is what we had in the dioceses that experienced the most serious problems anyway. In addition, the government school systems in the U.S. have a much greater problem with child abuse than the Churdh ever has, but this is the type of structure that SNAP mistakenly thinks will help.

Tragic cases like that of Fr. MacCormack unfortunately will continue to occur. However, if as Cardinal George is doing, we learn what went wrong, fix them and share them with other dioceses we can make these cases less and less common. However, SNAP thinks differently and this is what distrust risen to the level of pathology does to logic. With the case of Fr. MacCormack, SNAP trotted out names of 6 other priests, in cases that happened well before Cardinal George was installed, and argues in non-sequitur fashion that since the new policies did not prevent abuse decades ago then the only solution is that Church must be governed by the laity. A lay governed Church is in fact their ultimate goal.

If SNAP is really interested in helping to make children safer then they will first come to understand what the Church is, that Her hierarchy is divinely instituted and so it cannot be changed. Then instead of working like social activists who use public pressure to attempt to force changes in Church structure that just will not happen, they will start to work from within the Church, in a cooperative manner, especially with faithful and caring Shepherds like Cardinal George. They must also do something about their inability to trust. Severing their relationship with dissenting groups like Voice of the (un)Faithful is a necessary first step. They should also bring people into SNAP leadership positions who are also committed to helping those who have suffered from abuse but who do not suffer from the same issues of an inability to trust Catholics and the Church.

However, I do not expect to see this. I fear that if they will attack a gentle and faithful Shepherd like Cardinal George based upon little more than suspicion, then there is no bishop with whom they will work cooperatively...unless he shares their same ecclesial ideology.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The "I Support Cardinal George" Initiative

Do you want to show lend support to Cardinal George and the members of the Archdiocese of Chicago in these trying times?

Here at the Cardinal George Fan Club (CGF) we do.

The "I Support Cardinal George" Initiative is an easy way to demonstrate support and solidarity for His Eminence and other members of the Catholic Church who are doing their very best to shepherd souls and practice their faith through the recent hardships they have experienced.

Becoming a member of the "I Support Cardinal George" Initiative involves three simple steps:
  • Pray for Cardinal George and his work on behalf of the Catholic Church, as well as for all the members of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
  • If you run a blog/website, copy the above PNG "brilliant button" and display it on the homepage of your blog/website, and link back that image to the Cardinal George Fan Club homepage (http://cardinalgeorge.blogspot.com).
  • Send us an email at "cardinalgeorgefanclub [at] gmail.com" so we can add you to our sidebar's list of supporters once we verify that the image is functioning.
We hope that this initiative will create a network of prayers for and promote solidarity among the members and leaders of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Thank you, and may God Bless Cardinal George and the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

AOC's Festival of Faith Draws Thousands of Participants

The Chicago Sun-Times has the story:

Thousands of Catholics from parishes across the Chicago area streamed into Rosemont on Saturday to celebrate their faith, share information and get some inspiration -- in English, Spanish and Polish.

"People are isolated in their parishes at times," said Cardinal Francis George. "The people have come in, and in greater numbers than last time. They feel very encouraged."

More than 6,500 people, from toddlers to senior citizens, attended the second Catholic Festival of Faith Thursday through Saturday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Read the rest.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Latest Cardinal's Column - Feb 19, 2006

Finding the face of Christ: What kind of year will 2006 be?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

After the Year of the Eucharist in 2005, the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese have called for a Year of Evangelization in 2006. Evangelization, conversion to Christ in his Body the Church, is the constant purpose and mission of the Church; but this year a special emphasis will be put on re-thinking how this might be done in the parishes. As special events, Father Robert Barron of Mundelein Seminary will lead an Archdiocesan mission with public homilies and added opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Festival of Faith in February has as its general theme the New Evangelization. Many parishes will find their own way to implement the Archdiocesan evangelization guide, “Spreading the Holy Fire.”

A year of evangelization means a year of conversion. I have begun to add some extra time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to my own daily schedule in order to ask God’s forgiveness for the sin of sexual abuse of minors. In this time before the Lord, I try to bring to mind, besides the many victims I have personally met and prayed with in recent years, all those who might not have yet come forward and the many more victims who are suffering silently in our society. Prayer for our own complete conversion to Christ and for the conversion of the world must become part of a year of evangelization in our homes and in the parishes.

Read the rest.

Picture of "Catholics for the Cardinal"

Cardinal George ordains vicar general George Rassas as Bishop

Catholic New World:
When the Archdiocese of Chicago welcomed its newest bishop Feb. 2, it was truly a celebration of a favorite son. Cardinal George ordained Bishop George Rassas, 63, with his parents, Frances and George J. Rassas Sr. in the front pew at Holy Name Cathedral, and dozens of other family members in attendance.

The rest of the cathedral was filled with well-wishers who knew Bishop Rassas from his nearly 38 years of ministry in the archdiocese, including 14 years as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Lake Forest, and 15 years working in family ministry at the archdiocese’s pastoral center while assisting in other parishes.

For the past year, Bishop Rassas has served as vicar general, a post in which he is expected to continue for the immediate future.

Read the rest.

Friday, February 17, 2006

CNS on recent changes in the archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic News Service has published a good compehensive article on the situation:

CHICAGO – The Archdiocese of Chicago has hired an investigator to conduct an independent overview of its handling of recent abuse cases and asked for a complete review of its policies and procedures for monitoring clergy accused of sexually abusing children.

Both moves came as Cardinal Francis E. George named Jimmy Lago, chancellor, as the person responsible for overseeing the efforts of all employees and offices to make sure children are protected.

Read the rest.

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More information on this weekend's Catholic Festival of Faith

More information on the Catholic Festival of Faith (Feb 16-18):

Open to Catholics of all ages and to all those interested in the Catholic faith, the three-day Catholic Festival of Faith will offer Catholic liturgies, opportunities for prayer, concerts, keynote speakers and hundreds of workshops. Individuals may register for a single day’s events for $35, or for all three days of the Catholic Festival of Faith for $70.
Cardinal George will be leading many of the workships:

  • At 1:45 p.m. on Friday, February 17, and on Saturday, February 18, Cardinal George will offer a workshop entitled, "Evangelization: Creating Something New." In this workshop, the Cardinal will explore the meaning of the late Pope John Paul II's call for a "New Evangelization," noting that the Holy Father wanted to place change -- "radical newness" -- at the center of evangelization, to ask what is created anew in a person's life or in society when the Gospel is effectively lived.
  • At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, February 17, Cardinal George will meet with Catholic youth to discuss "Our Call To Be Radically New,” concerning his experiences of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, his understanding of Pope Benedict XVI's message to youth, and the baptismal call to be made new in the life of the Eucharist.
  • At 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, Cardinal George will host a conversation about the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, in which the highlights and surprises of the new pope's first year of papal leadership will be discussed.
  • At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, Cardinal George will celebrate the closing liturgy of the Catholic Festival of Faith.
Admission to the closing liturgy and to any or all of the Cardinal's workshops are complimentary with admission to the Catholic Festival of Faith.

Additional questions about the Catholic Festival of Faith can be answered via email to catholicfest@archchicago.org or by phoning the Archdiocese of Chicago at 312/751-8388.

It is being held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5500 N. River Rd., Rosemont.


Cardinal George spearheads revitalization of Chicago Archdiocese

Zenit has the story on Mission Chicago 2006:

CHICAGO, FEB. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A yearlong series of Masses, prayer novenas, discussions and other events is under way in an effort to revitalize Catholics in the Chicago Archdiocese.

Cardinal Francis George has commissioned the project called Mission Chicago 2006 in response to lower Sunday Mass attendance, new allegations of sexual abuse by priests, and fallen-away Catholics who may have soured on the Church.

The mission is beginning with a three-day Catholic Festival of Faith in suburban Rosemont. It will continue with six revival talks at parishes from Feb. 23 to April 9.

Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Doing the Right Thing

The press and others have been very vocal in the last few weeks, working very hard to keep what they seem to see as a very juicy story, in front of the public eye. Some have taken to dredging up decades old accusations in which the alleged perpetrators were gone from the priesthood well before Cardinal George was installed as Archbishop of Chicago. Lest the audience not see that these accusations were intended to besmirch Cardinal George, they included an inane quote saying that action should be taken against him because he is ultimately responsible.

Well, lets look at the facts as they are out in the public:

- Last August, an allegation of sexual abuse by Fr. McCormack was made to the police, not to the Archdiocese

- The Archdiocese was advised by the civil authorities that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Fr. McCormack, and no charges were filed

- The Archdiocese asked the police to request the parents of the accuser (whose identity was unknown to them) to come forward so an Archdiocesan investigation could begin (they did not)

- Fr. McCormack was told not to be alone with children and was assigned a personal monitor

- The Archdiocese, despite many requests, has still not received either the police interview of last August or any allegation against Fr. McCormack that could be used to begin an investigation

- On January 18 an allegation was made to the Archdiocese by an eighth grade student at St. Agatha’s school and school officials followed Archdiocesan policies, calling the police and notifying the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS)

- On January 20, Fr. McCormack was arrested and charged

- On January 21, after consulting the Review Board, the Vicar General, in Cardinal George's absence, removed Fr. McCormack from ministry

Let's see... Was there a cover-up? No. The police were the first to know about the August incident and decided there was not enough evidence to do anything. In the St. Agatha incident, the Archdiocese reported the accusation immediately to the police. I wonder why we do not see a clamoring for the resignation of the police chief or the Mayor for not locking Fr. McCormack up due to the accusation?

Was there a failure to follow policy? Well, it appears that there may have been. But not in the two cases mentioned above. Apparently, there was an accusation of abuse against Fr. McCormack in 2000 in a diocesan school that did not make it to the Archdiocese office. The mother of the child decided not to make a report so the principle did not report it to police. She did however, send a letter to the Archdiocese which has not been found. Not reporting to the police was a grave mistake which does require investigation and correction. There is also a disagreement between the mother of the August 2005 victim, who is now suing Cardinal George and the Archdiocese, and the diocesan office responsible for handling the reports as to when they talked and what information was provided. The press has presented the mother and her lawyer as saying that Cardinal George is lying about it. The evidence suggests that Cardinal George was not involved in whatever occurred between the mother and the archdiocesan representative.

Was there a failure of the policy itself? That is an open question. The Archdiocese is reviewing the policy and trying to determine if there is anything that could allow removal of a priest in such a situation. They admit that even if they had known about the 2000 accusation, without the family reporting the case to the Archdiocese, under Canon Law no action would have been authorized. But this is moot here because it was not a matter of putting Canon Law before children's welfare. And remember, before the second allegation all the Archdiocese knew was that an accusation was made and the police did not find enough evidence to press charges. Did the Archdiocese ignore the situation? No, they assigned a personal monitor for Fr. McCormack and warned him to have no contact with children. So at this point what we have appears to be posturing for legal action (and other unseemly agendas) than any evidence of negligence or even poor prudential judgment.

So the question then is, if the accusation is that the Archdiocese did not act responsibly then are we saying that any accusation should be taken as sufficient to remove someone from their position without an investigation or would this lack of due process be only reserved for priests? Remember, even with no information the Archdiocese restricted some of Fr. McCormack's freedoms and assigned him a personal monitor.

I understand the skepticism from those jaundiced by loaded press reporting, but based upon this information I honestly do not understand the criticisms from faithful Catholics. Suspicion and skepticism of every bishop because of the failures of a few is unreasonable. This is especially the case with a faithful Shepherd like Cardinal George. This caustic approach would be destructive for any family and the Church is no different.
[comments made prior to Haloscan switchover can still be seen here]

Cardinal George appoints chancellor to review archdiocesan policies

The Chicago Tribune has the story:

By Manya A. Brachear

Cardinal Francis George has tapped the chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago to oversee future allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

In his new role, Jimmy M. Lago has ordered an independent review of the policies and procedures that left Rev. Daniel McCormack and Rev. Joseph Bennett in ministry for months while abuse allegations against them were under church investigation.

Lago has also commissioned an outside firm to review the archdiocese's monitoring practices for priests permanently removed from ministry and for those awaiting a determination on the credibility of allegations made against them.


Lago is an experienced child advocate who has been associated with the archdiocese since 1976, George said. He serves on the Ethics Commission of the Inspector General's office of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

An Oak Park resident who is married and has two children, Lago played a part in the passage of the state's Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and was the author of the 10-year report on clerical sexual abuse in the archdiocese in 2003.

Read the full article.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cardinal George to announce changes in archdiocesan policy soon

Cardinal George is scheduled to announce changes in policy for the Archdiocese of Chicago in dealing with cases of clerical misconduct, possibly today. Updates as they arrive.

Letter of Cardinal George to Parishioners

[also available in Spanish and Polish]

February 8, 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As you know, in June 2002, the U.S. bishops promised that victims of sexual abuse would be attended to; that priests who were shown to have ever abused a minor, even once, would be permanently removed from public ministry if not from the priesthood; and that programs would be set up to protect young people from harm. The Archdiocese had started on all of this long before 2002, but new initiatives were begun for training all adults to protect children and the processes to examine allegations were reviewed and strengthened. Records were re-examined to be sure that all priests ever accused of any such sinful activity were not in ministry. The Archdiocese has had a deservedly good reputation in responding to this crisis. It has conformed to national standards and to audits. It has reported, for many years, to the civil authorities every allegation it has received. Many fine and dedicated people have cared for victims and reviewed cases. In particular, we should all be proud of the Victims’ Assistance Ministry, the Independent Review Board and the Professional Fitness Office. These people’s work has been conscientiously and professionally done.

The case of Father Daniel McCormack undermines all this now. When an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor is made against a priest, the Professional Fitness Review Administrator receives it from the accuser, reports it to the civil authorities and presents it to the Independent Review Board for their consideration. During this first investigation, the priest accused is told of the allegation, his ministry is restricted, he is given a monitor and asked if he has a defense against the accusation. If the Board decides, after their preliminary, but careful, consideration of the accusation, that there is reasonable cause to suspect something happened, I remove the priest from ministry, the various parishes at which he served are notified, any other victims are asked to come forward, the investigation is completed and the case is sent to the Holy See for permission to remove the priest from public ministry. This process did not occur in the case of Father McCormack.

Father McCormack was not in any sense “protected” from the civil authorities by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Before any allegation came to the Archdiocese, he was arrested by the police, questioned and let go. When I learned of his arrest three days after it occurred, I restricted his ministry while we waited for an allegation to begin the process of investigation. It now seems that additional information was available that did not reach our offices. The process we have used well to remove predators was not engaged quickly enough.

I must apologize to all of you for the great embarrassment every Catholic must now feel in the light of media scrutiny of these events. In particular, I am deeply sorry for the pain of those Catholics who are part of St. Agatha’s Parish. They were especially in my prayers on February 5, their feast day. I pray as well for those who have brought these allegations against Father McCormack. He and his family also warrant inclusion in our prayers.

To be sure that the protection of children remains paramount, we will continue to examine what happened with the help of experts not connected to the Archdiocese of Chicago. We will work to be more immediately responsive and to move cases along more quickly. We’ll have to be sure that all information from any source gets to the Archdiocesan offices and is more widely shared, with the civil authorities as usual, but also with others. A case ordinarily begins with a call to the Archdiocesan hotline for sexual abuse reporting (312-751-5205), and we will check on how we might improve that service.

All of this is necessary; none of it will of itself remove the pain of the moment. We can only pray that pain will be redemptive in this case and that the Lord will heal us. I pray that a failure to act more quickly on my part will not harm the Archdiocese itself. You are in my prayers; please keep me in yours. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

Archbishop of Chicago

[republished from the Archdiocese of Chicago website]

Monday, February 13, 2006

"Hundreds rally to support Cardinal George"

Update 1: The Chicago Tribune also covers the story.

Original post:

ABC Chicago 7 reports:

[click on link above to watch video coverage of this story]

Hundreds rally to support Cardinal George

February 12, 2006 - Francis Cardinal George has been under a lot of scrutiny lately for the decision the archdiocese made on recent allegations of sexual abuse against two local priests. Sunday afternoon a group gathered at Holy Name Cathedral to show their support for the Cardinal.

In the past few days, one priest has called for Cardinal George's resignation, another group is calling for a federal investigation into the Cardinal and the archdiocese. The Cardinal's supporters finally say they've had it with just sitting back. That's why they came out Sunday to rally.

"We love Cardinal George!" were the shouts as demonstrators gathered outside Holy Name Cathedral. Following weeks of public criticism over the way Cardinal George has handled the allegations of sexual abuse, hundreds of Catholics came out to support him.

This is awful for the Cardinal. Anything to attack a good shepherd here in Chicago to lead the sheep. I think it's outrageous that they're doing this to him," said Danita Covington.

They chanted, prayed and even shouted ballgame like cheers for the cardinal.

Read the full article.

Cardinal George's reflection on Valentine's Day

[From the Catholic New World]

The love of God and Valentine’s DayValentine’s Day is marked each year as a celebration of human friendship and romantic love. In some people’s minds, romantic love is quite different from love of God or God’s love for us. Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical tries to show how every example of love feeds into every other. “God is love,” the Pope tells us again, echoing St. John the evangelist; and God’s love for us shows itself in the love of husband and wife.

Often we presuppose that there must be a separation between eros—understood as human desire, sexually expressed—and agape, a selfless, spiritual love. But every genuine love is a form of self-giving. Love is not a thing to be exchanged, but a gift that brings the giver intimately into another’s life. Love transforms the lives of both lovers, because each receives his or her self back, transformed by their mutual love. Every love entails sacrifice for the beloved, but love makes even sacrifice a joy.When being in love means a commitment only to an experience, then love disappears with the experience. When being in love means commitment to a person, then love lasts as long as the person loved.

Modern culture has magnified the idea of love as spontaneous over the reality of love as a series of choices. People talk about being “swept away” and losing control of themselves. Yet if passion is the essence of love, then loving brings loss of the very freedom that people claim they want to preserve when they hesitate making a permanent commitment to one another. During a conference to discuss the new papal encyclical last week in Rome, people from the world of films and popular communication spoke about how love as an experience is easier to portray on film than love as a personal commitment.

The Pope’s letter also speaks of love’s relation to justice. Again, some would separate charity from justice, as others separate God’s love from romantic love. And, again, that would be a mistake. A perfectly just world would still need love. An economic and political system is never equal to the dignity of the human person if it is constructed apart from the dynamics of love. Officials of the World Bank and other economic institutions participated in the conference to speak to the connection between charity and economic and social development.

True love asks for nothing in return, for this kind of loving is how God loves us. The Blessed Trinity is a unity created by the total self-giving of the three divine persons, each to the others, for the others, in the others. The giving of oneself to others constitutes the nature of God. A gift of self is feared if it brings with it some kind of onerous demand, an obligation to the person giving. God’s love teaches us that there are persons who make no demands in loving, who are not in competition with those they love. Experiencing divine love prepares us to love fully and gratuitously all those God places on our path of life, our family, friends and neighbors, even our enemies.

The Church, Pope Benedict explains, is to be a network of charity, a sacrament of God’s love in the world. The Church is as committed to the service of charity in the form of Christ-like love as she is to the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments. As Christ commissioned the Twelve to go, baptize, preach and make disciples (Mt. 28, 18-20), so the apostles early in the Church’s life commissioned the Seven to the work of charity (Acts 6: 1-7). Think of the more than 600 deacons ordained for the Archdiocese in the past generation and their charitable service in our parishes and institutions. Think of the organization of loving service in the form of Catholic Charities, so well-developed here in the Archdiocese. Think as well of all the volunteers in every parish and family, giving of their time and goods to help with love the needy, the sick, the stranger, the prisoner, the hungry and homeless. This charity makes credible to the world the Gospel’s proclamation that “God is love.” Of course, the Church has no corner, no monopoly on work for the poor and for the elimination of economic and political injustice. The work of charity is ecumenical and universal, both in its scope and its workers.

This Valentine’s Day, read with someone you love the Song of Solomon (Canticle of Canticles) in the Old Testament and the parable of the Good Samaritan in the New Testament (Luke 10: 29-37). Pope Benedict reflects on both these passages from Holy Scripture in this first Encyclical. May God’s holy word touch your hearts and open them to the divine love that gives us the gift of our being and the promise of eternal life. God bless you.

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