Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cardinal sin

The latest Chicago sex-abuse case continues to unfold, and Cardinal George still can't seem to get it right. Acknowledging in today's Chicago Tribune that the diocesan process for dealing with sex-abuse allegations "failed," he still tried to shift blame (after earlier blaming the family and the nun who reported the original incident), taking aim at abuse survivors' groups especially for encouraging parents to go to the police rather than the church. The archdiocese's abject failure to act on an allegation from 2000 regarding Daniel McCormack, then asking another priest to keep tabs on McCormack when another allegation surfaced, demonstrates the wisdom of SNAP and other groups that the police should be involved.

Of course, what is totally ridiculous is that McCormack--once a seminary official--was named a dean the day before the whole thing broke, even though he was being "supervised" at the time. That's proof enough of just how shallow the reforms have been. Barbara Blaine of the SNAP complained of a "pattern" of ignoring and even promoting abusers, citing the case of Ken Martin, a Delaware priest who pleaded no contest to abuse charges from before he was ordained but who was working for the archdiocese as a theological censor. What I don't think Blaine and the other survivor groups know is that Martin is still on the archdiocesan payroll doing the same work from Maryland, just no longer staying at the cardinal's mansion. George argues, perhaps rightly, that priest-abusers can't just be abandoned, but I don't think that justifies putting them in positions of influence.

The point: George continues to promote those who are ideologically sympatico with him, despite their histories, then pleads ignorance or the failure of "processes" when things blow up. He claims there is no cover-up, and perhaps there isn't, but it sure does look bad. George has only himself to blame for the egg on his face on this count. What I'd really love to hear him say is that he and the archdiocese screwed up, period--without immediately pointing the finger at someone else. The "process" didn't fail, people failed, and as a result at least two more preadolescent boys were exposed to a sexual predator.


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