Diocese of Joliet Chancery
Diocese of Joliet Chancery Established in 1948, encompasses seven counties in northern Illinois, roughly 30 miles southwest of Chicago, serves Roman Catholics in seven counties. It consists of 122 parishes and 11 missions, 64 elementary and secondary schools, and three colleges and serves a population of 620,363 registered Catholics with 171 deacons and 195 diocesan priests.
Diocese of Joliet Chancery abuse Diocese rocked by allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up, with 18 priests accused of sexual abuse up to January 2003 (NYT survey). Ten priests were removed from the diocese 2002-03. Another priest from the diocese who was serving in Kentucky also was placed on administrative leave. Priests who were accused in Joliet and transferred to other dioceses, Anthony Ross in Santa Rosa, Calif., and Fred Lenczycki in St. Louis, also were removed when old allegations surfaced. National Audit found more than 100 credible allegations of priests engaging in sexual misconduct with children have been made against 27 diocesan clerics. Seven more priests were accused of inappropriate sexual behavior during that period, but those accusations were not sustained 22 February 2004.
- Diocese of Joliet Chancery settlements Diocese paid more than $2.6 million 1983-2002, made up of $1.7 million paid to victims of sexual abuse by priests, with an additional $936,000 paid by insurance.
Bishop Imesch Bishop Joseph Imesc (1932-), 26 years a bishop, defended accused clerics, saying they were good priests who exercised poor judgment and were victims of smear campaigns and reckless media coverage. Bishop Joseph Imesch retired in May 2006
- Bishop Imesch cover-up Bishop Imesch had a long history of covering up pedophilia, transferring at least four accused priests inside his diocese without alerting parishioners. And he brought in a convicted child molester, the Rev. Gary Berthiaume, who had served as an associate pastor under him at a Detroit church years earlier. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of St. Louis removed two priests it had accepted from Joliet, the Rev. Fred Lenczycki and the Rev. J. Anthony Meis, saying that Bishop Imesch had not disclosed past allegations against them when recommending them for transfers. The bishop has denied that assertion. Early in 2002, he said that some people are not traumatized by sexual abuse and that some priests who molest adolescents should be allowed back into ministry after therapy, but in late May 2002, he changed to support “zero tolerance” policy after the bishops approved it in Dallas: “I am sorry for any pain I have caused victims, their families, parishioners and others,” he wrote. “I feel that some of the criticisms directed at me were harsh, but I hope that I have learned from them.”
Three priest case Two brothers, John and Jeff Welch sued the Diocese of Joliet Chancery , claiming three priests, John C. Slown, Arno Dennerlein and Richard Ruffalo abused them 1962-68 while they attended St. John the Baptist Church in Winfield. DuPage Circuit Judge John T. Elsner ruled a new state law extending the time limit for lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse of children cannot be applied retroactively to revive the brothers’ allegations.
Two priest case Two brothers sue the Diocese of Joliet, claiming sexual abuse by two different priests. The lawsuits filed in Will County Circuit Court brought to 15 the number of suits pending against the diocese in Will and DuPage counties, May 2006.
Diocesian list Names of some diocesan priests accused of sexually abusing minors against whom a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor has been made. It will not include the names of religious order priests who served in the diocese, or diocesan priests who were the subjects of claims that were deemed unfounded. Announced 2 April 2006.
Diocesan Cases of Joliet Chancery
[34 offenders identified, 42 listed]
Anon priest I Civil lawsuit accusing a former suburban priest of sexually abusing a teenage boy more than 30 years earlier would not be made public unless a judge agrees first to release them. It names the Diocese of Joliet Chancery and Bishop Joseph Imesch as defendants, contending there was abuse in that church officials were aware of, but they took no action to prevent it. The diocese filed a legal motion seeking to seal all court filings in the case, saying it fears releasing information could harm the privacy of other alleged victims. “Bishop Imesch is trying to keep a lid on and keep all the dirty secrets hidden, said Barbara Blaine, director of SNAP.
Anon priest II Sexual allegations made against two priests by a former student who attended both Providence Catholic School and Joliet Catholic High School. The incidents would have occurred more than 30 years earlier, when the alleged victim was a student. No lawsuit or criminal charges have been filed. Reported 8 June 2010.
Anon priest III See Anon priest II
Barrett affair Rev. John F. Barrett, ordained 1959, accused of abuse. Placed on leave May 2002, re old accusations that he molested an 8th grade boy in Catholic cchool in 1968. Original claim was made in 1991 but the man says that Diocese cancelled meeting with him at last minute when he wanted to bring either his wife or attorney with him. The victim let the matter drop until 2002 when investigator for Diocese contacted him. Cleared by Diocesan investigation 10 June 2002 and returned to duty. Diocese said claims could not be substantiated and victim was not cooperating.
Bennett affair Rev. Richard Bennett, pastor at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, denied the abuse allegations claiming he was one of two priests in the Diocese of Joliet sexually abused Tim Greco beginning when he was 11 years old in 1975. He was in a shower with the Rev. Philip Dedera in the rectory at St. Pius X Church in Lombard when Bennett walked in and discovered the priest and boy naked together (Dedera affair). Greco alleges that Dedera repeatedly abused him for more than a year and that Bennett molested him once. Filed April 2006. Case dismissed due to the state’s statute of limitations and parishioners celebrated, June 2007.
Berthiaume affair Rev. Gary D. Berthiaume was convicted and received 6 months in jail 1978 for abusing a 12 years-old boy who received $325,000 settlement in the 1980s. The victim went on to have his own pedophilia problems. Berthiaume was kept in a parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit for most of the 1980s without telling the congregation about his prior molestation conviction. A priest assigned to monitor him, the Rev. Allen Bruening, himself previously had been removed from a parish because of abuse allegations and was made director of a Catholic high school. Berthiaume was transferred again, to the Diocese of Joliet, IL, until he was removed from his post as chaplain in a suburban Chicago hospital when allegations of old abuse occurred, 2002.
Burnett affair Rev. James Burnett, ordained 1968, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Mokena.
- Shanahan accusation Dan Shanahan accused Rev. James Burnett of molesting him from ages 8 to 12 until the mid-1980s at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Mokena. .
Chang affair Rev. Joseph Chang accused of abuse of woman settled 1995.
Dedera affair Rev. Philip Dedera, ordained 1 November 1972, was accused by Tim Greco of sexual abuse. Greco was showering with the Dedera in the rectory at St. Pius X Church in Lombard when Rev. Richard Bennett walked in (Bennett affair) and discovered the priest and boy naked together. Greco alleges that Dedera repeatedly abused him for more than a year and that Bennett molested him once. Dedera became a suburban Chicago hospital chaplain, was removed from his post, 2002. Case filed April 2006. Claim was settled.
Dennerlein affair Rev. Arno Dennerlein, Jesuit, ordained 31 May 1969, priest at St. Patrick Catholic Church was accused by two brothers of abusing them in the mid-1970s, when Dennerlein took them to the rectory and convinced them to lie down on his couch. The younger brother, who was between 5 and 6 years old at the time, told police that Dennerlein tried to look down his pants. The older brother, who was about 12 at the time of his incident, said Dennerlein fondled him. The two did not learn about each other’s experiences until years later. Sued 2003. Placed on administrative leave 2003, canonical case pending.
Fischer affair Rev. Lowell Fischer (deceased) accused of abuse, removed from ministry 2002.
Flores affair Rev. Alejandro Flores (Alex) (1973-), who is a native of Bolivia, was ordained in June 2009 and was the parochial vicar of Holy Family Parish in Shorewood. Prior to that he served as a deacon at St. Elizabeth Seton in Naperville. He was placed on administrative leave after a St. Charles family alleged that he had sexually assaulted their 13-year-old son over a five-year period, starting in January 2005, when the boy was 8, 4 January 2010.
- Flores suicide attempt Flores attempted suicide, surviving the fall from a 20-foot choir balcony at St. Mary’s Carmelite Church in Joliet, 6 January 2010.
- Flores trial Alejandro Flores was charged with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, two counts of sexual assault, and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, 21 January 2010.
Formusa affair Rev. Salvatore Formusa (deceased) ordained 27 April 1935, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, retired 1985.
Frederick affair Rev. James Frederick (d. 1988) ordained 30 May 1959, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him.
Furdek affair Rev. John M. Furdek (1953-), ordained 2 June 1984, pastor of St. Alexander Catholic Church in Villa Park, had been assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Naperville, St. Philip the Apostle in Addison, and St. Mary of Gostyn in Downers Grove. He had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, removed from ministry 2000, arrested, charged, 2000. In 2003, a Wisconsin court convicted Furdek of attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child and sentenced him to 15 years. He had been arrested at a Racine, Wis., restaurant where he went to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex. He served three years of his prison sentence and was paroled in May 2006. He is a registered child sex offender in Illinois and Wisconsin.
- MusclePosing773 screen name of “the boy” Furdek had been chatting with online for months who turned out to be an agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Gibbney affair Rev. Michael Gibbney began his ministry in 1959, served at St. Isidore Church in Bloomingdale, St. Charles Borromeo in Bensenville, St. Luke’s parish in Carol Stream 1972-81. He was accused of molesting an altar boy at Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Elmhurst from 1978-79. He served at Holy Ghost Church in Wood Dale 1981-90, finally St. Daniel the Prophet on West Loop Road in Wheaton since the parish formed in 1989. Removed from ministry 1992. Sued 2002.
- Gibbney lawsuits Two more men filed lawsuits against the Joliet Diocese claiming Bishop Joseph Imesch and other diocese officials are responsible for alleged sexual abuse by Michael Gibbney. Bobby Drish (1968-) and David Mortell (1969-) accused Gibbney of molesting them beginning when they were 11 and 13 years old in 1979 and 1981, respectively. The lawsuits claim that Imesch was aware of Gibbney’s inappropriate conduct with boys at Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Elmhurst when the bishop moved him to St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in Bolingbrook. Filed 2 February 2006.
Gibbs affair Rev. Lawrence M. Gibbs (Larry), ordained 12 May 1973, sexually abused boys in Lombard parish 1977 and 1980. Then early in Bishop Joseph Imesch’s career in Joliet in 1980, the diocese moved Gibbs while he was under criminal investigation and refused to tell investigators where he was. The bishop told parents whose children had been interviewed in the case that authorities had found no evidence to charge. During a deposition in August 2005, Bishop Imesch said a priest skinny-dipping and playing poker in the nude with young boys was “inappropriate,” but because Imesch did not consider it to be sexual abuse. The bishop sent Gibbs to Lockport parish where he began molesting an 11-year-old boy. Removed from ministry 1992. Gibbs left the priesthood. Affair settled 1998.
Howlin affair Rev. Carroll Howlin, ordained 26 May 1961, pastor in Whitley City, KY, since 1980, was suspended by the Joliet diocese and the Lexington, KY diocese pending an investigation into sexual misconduct, April 2002, canonical case pending.
Jochem affair Rev. Harold Jochem (deceased), Franciscan ordained 1930, man filed civil suit June 2004 alleging that he was abused from 1974 to 1978 by Jochem and another franciscan friar, Jeffrey Salwach, at St. Jude Catholic Parish in New Lenox. Suit says that the two priests forced the youth to engage in group sex, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol over a 4 year period.
Kocher affair Rev. Donald C. Kocher sued for abuse of a woman 1995.
Lenczycki affair Rev. Frederick A. Lenczycki (Fred), ordained 21 October 1972, had a history of sexual abusing as many as 30 boys, many from Chicago’s suburbs, which began after his ordination and continued through his 2004 conviction for the crimes committed at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale. He was accused in Joliet, moved to St. Louis and was removed when old allegations surfaced. Because Lenczycki left the state in 1984, shortly after more than a dozen young boys at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale accused him of molesting them, the statute of limitations had not yet run out, ruled DuPage County Circuit Judge Ann B. Jorgensen, 18 June 2003. Removed from ministry 2002. Convicted 2004. It appears that he had more than two dozen from about six assignments in Illinois, California and Missouri over several years.
McBrien affair Rev. Kevin Michael McBrien, Carmelite ordained 1970, was removed from position at St. Matthew Church In Glendale Heights May 2010 after allegation that he abused one youth on a single occasion approx. 30-35 yrs previously while at Joliet Catholic High School. Same person also alleged abuse on multiple occasions by Fr. Lee Ryan at Providence High School. Investigation by Diocese is ongoing, Lives in a supervised setting August 2010.
Mateo affair Rev. Leonardo Mateo, ordained 17 March 1956, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, left diocese 1984, later returned to Archdiocese of Cebu
Meis affair Rev. J. Anthony Meis, ordained 15 August 1972, hospital chaplain, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, settled. Removed from ministry 2002.
Mullins affair Rev. Lawrence Mullins (Larry), ordained 15 October 1977, sexually abused three boys while they were elementary school students and altar boys at St. Raymond Cathedral in Joliet from 1978 to 1980. Mullins told them the molestation was a normal part of coming of age. Removed from ministry 1993. Removed from Joliet Catholic Academy 2002.
- Fehrenbacher accusation Christopher Fehrenbacher said Mullins abused him several times between 1978 and 1980 in the school, in the church sacristy and in Mullins’ apartment in the rectory. Fehrenbacher was 10 years old when the reported abuses began. Mullins, who supervised altar boys, preyed on an elite group of youths who were granted privileges by serving at church functions.
Murphy affair Br. Robert Murphy, Carmelite, accused of abuse.
Nowak affair Rev. James A. Nowak, ordained 1967, retired in 2007 from Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville. Member of Montini Catholic H.S. board of directors. Removed without privileges August 2012 after allegation of sexual abuse of a minor approx. 25 years previously (possibly mid to late 1980s.) No parish information given but 1989 Official Catholic Directory shows him assigned to St. Anthony in Joliet. Review Board found allegation to be credible. Matter will be forwarded to Rome for further action.
O’Connor affair Rev. Donald O’Connor, ordained 23 May 1964, police chaplain, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, removed from ministry 2002.
Pock affair Rev. Donald Pock (d. 2004), ordained 7 June 1958, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, removed from ministry, 2002.
Poff affair Rev. Edward Poff, ordained 7 June 1958, hospital chaplain, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, removed from ministry, 2002.
Ross affair Rev. Anthony Ross, ordained 11 November 1972, had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against him, removed from ministry 2002
Ruffalo affair Rev. Richard Ruffalo (1935-1997), ordained 30 May 1959, In 2002 Ruffalo was accused by at least 2 men of abusing them when they were boys. Allegedly gave them beer and wine, took them on trips to Las Vegas and molested them. Ruffalo was also accused of stealing from collections. He was over $95,000 in debt when he died in 1997. One man filed civil suit 1998 which later settled. 2 more plaintiffs filed suit 2003. 4th man came forward 2006.
Ryan affair Rev. F. Lee Ryan allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy in the 1970s. The now-52-year-old accuser said he and Ryan had a relationship for more than a year. The man confided in Ryan that he was gay, and things turned sexual as the two became closer. He believed they were dating. The accuser said he did not tell anyone at the time, and it was only in 2010 that he told his mother about his relationship with the family’s priest. His mother spoke to a victims advocate who arranged for him to submit a complaint to the church.
- Vatican view Vatican cited Canon No. 2359 in the 1917 Code of Canon Law to explain why the priest was not found guilty of violating church law. The code states that a cleric who violates the commandment forbidding adultery, by indecently touching a person under the age of 16, has committed a canonical crime. The priest removed from ministry over a sexual abuse allegation has been reinstated, September 2012.
Salwach affair Rev. Jeffrey Salwach, ordained 1984, man filed civil suit alleging that he was abused as youth from 1974 to 1978 by Salwach and another friar. Salwach later transferred to Texas before being placed on leave May 2003. Lawsuit settled and no criminal charges were filed. Still shown as active priest per Catholic Times 10 May 2009. In November 2011, word was received that Salwach had recently been assigned to work at LaVerna Friary in a residential neighborhood in St. Louis, MO.
Simonelli affair Rev. Jerry Simonelli was removed from his pastorate by Bishop J. Peter Sartain because he engaged in homosexual activity. “It was consenting behavior, but a priest takes a vow of celibacy,… He was unfaithful to his vows on more than one occasion,” 20 May 2010.
- Additional affair Separate diocesan investigation found that Father Simonelli had engaged in an additional homosexual relationship.
Slade affair Rev. Henry Slade, ordained 1984, accused of abuse, arrested and placed on leave January 1990. Pled guilty February 1990 to sexual misconduct with 18 year-old disabled man, removed from ministry 1990. Sentenced to 12 month. probation. Victim filed suit December 1991. Suit later settled.
Slown case Rev. John C. Slown, ordained 30 May 1959, was convicted in 1983 of sexually abusing an altar boy at St. Irene Catholic Church in Warrenville, was defrocked and then moved to Colorado. Slown says he left priesthood because he was alcoholic. In October 2003 two brothers filed suit alleging abuse by Slown, Ruffalo and Arno Dennerlein. Suit said abuse occurred in Illinois for several years and, for the younger boy, later in NJ. He was removed from ministry.
Stalzer affair Rev. David Stalzer (d. 2000), ordained 1974. 1993 civil suit claims that Stalzer and Lawrence M. Gibbs abused the plaintiff in 1981. Suit was dismissed in 1994 by the Court after Plaintiff claimed to have been treated by two psychologists and both denied having seen the man. Stalzer was returned to duty 4/93 (under supervision and with limited contact w/ youngsters) prior to resolution of suit. He was allowed to continue active duties until his death in 2000.
Stefanich case Rev. Edward Stefanich, ordained 25 May 1965, removed from ministry 1987, convicted for abuse of 14 year-old Woodridge girl, sentenced to 1 year probation 1987.
- Glen Ellyn allegation Stefanich was also accused of sexual abuse by a man Glen Ellyn man who recalled repressed memories of alleged abuse by Stefanich while at Christ the King parish in Lombard c. 1971.
- Anon girl I allegation Stefanich abused a 15 yr old girl for 16 mos in 1985-86. Church warned by Counselor about the relationship in 1986; they promised to handle but did nothing until 1987 after Stefanich proposed marriage and girl’s parents complained. Stefanich was indicted and pled guilty. In 1987 sentenced to 6 mo. jail; 1 yr of counseling and had to be laicized.
- Anon girl II allegation Police admitted that they knew he had abused another girl as well. Settled with family 4/88 for $450K.
- Anon accusation Man filed suit re abuse from 1969-1970, September 2003.
Van Duren affair Rev. Charles Van Duren (d. 1997), ordained 1952, name appeared on Diocese’s June 2008 list of accused priests with a credible/substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Worked in MA, PA, St. Joseph Indian School in SD, and MS before coming to Joliet Diocese in 1970. Worked in several parishes,retired in 1995.
Virtue affair Rev. William D. Virtue, ordained 1975, accused of abuse in Joliet Diocese in 1980-1981. Placed on leave February 2006. Not included on Joliet Diocese list of confirmed abusers released 4.09.06. Civil suit filed May 2006. Virtue worked in Joliet, Rockford and Peoria dioceses. Diocese settled suit as to Virtue as of September 2007.
Welch accusations Brothers Jeff and John Welch accused a priest and two of his colleagues of repeated sexual abuse, beginning during the nightly prayers and continuing even after the family moved out of state in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Joliet and three former priests they allege molested them, 14 October 2003. They said the abuse continued for six years until 1968 while they attended St. John the Baptist Church and its religious school in Winfield. The priests named in the suit were John C. Slown, Arno Dennerlein and Richard Ruffalo. The brothers struggled through years of depression and counseling before coming to grips with the allegations, “As a kid, you’re taught to respect and admire priests, almost to the point that you believe these guys can’t sin,” said John Welch.
White case I Rev. Myles Patrick White, ordained 28 May 1968, removed from ministry 1992, convicted for abuse of teenager 1992.
White case II Rev. Thomas White, pastor of St. Daniel the Prophet Parish in Wheaton, Ill., was the target of the lawsuit, which asked for damages exceeding $50,000, alleging repeated molesting of a 10-11 years old boy, in the rectory of the Carol Stream parish, 1979-80, October 2003. White was exonerated of abuse charges and reinstated as pastor after James Tibor of Naperville recanted charges of sexual abuse.
Should Sex-Abuse-Scandal Cardinals Be Allowed to Vote for New Pope?
by Barbie Latza Nadeau Feb 21, 2013 1:25 PM EST
As the conclave for new pope nears, Catholics are calling for cardinals embroiled in sex-abuse scandals to abstain from voting.
Can he who has sinned cast a vote for the next pope? Apparently so. But a growing number of the Vatican’s cardinal electors are being questioned over their knowledge of past sex-abuse scandals, calling into question their ethical right to vote in the next conclave.
In less than a week, the majority of the 117-strong College of Cardinals is expected to descend upon Rome to prepare for the conclave in which they will elect a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned February 11. But as the Vatican prepares for the pageantry of the occasion, survivors of the church’s sex scandals and everyday Catholics are raising concerns about whether it is appropriate for certain cardinals to be allowed to dictate the church’s future. “In our view, it’s very safe to assume that almost every one of the prelates who’ll pick the pope … have ignored, concealed, or enabled child sex crimes,” Zach Hiner, a spokesman for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), tells The Daily Beast.
While many cardinals have been stained by the extensive clergy sex scandals, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles Roger M. Mahony has become a poster priest for the corrupt cardinals of this conclave. Mahony was effectively let go as head of America’s largest diocese in January by his Vatican-endorsed replacement, Archbishop José Gomez, when a California court released 120,000 pages of internal church documents sequestered during investigations of 120 predatory priests in the Los Angeles diocese. The documents show that Mahony was directly involved in moving known pedophiles between parishes in an attempt to conceal their crimes. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” said Gomez in a statement when he fired his predecessor. More than $600,000 has been paid in lawsuits to victims in the Los Angeles diocese.
This Saturday Mahony will appear in a Los Angeles court to give a deposition in a criminal case involving a Mexican priest who is accused of raping 29 children over just nine months in 1987. The priest is on the lam in Mexico with multiple arrest warrants for child abuse against him, and he has been defrocked in absentia. But Mahony allegedly covered for the priest and obstructed justice when parents of the reported victims complained to the police. He is currently not facing charges, but he will be questioned under oath. Then, according to his Twitter feed, he plans to head to Rome—unless someone stops him. “Countdown to the papal conclave has begun,” he tweeted. “Your prayers needed that we elect the best Pope for today and tomorrow’s church.”
Since Benedict’s resignation, a not-so-subtle storm has been brewing outside Vatican City calling for Mahony to stay in California. Signs have been posted (and quickly removed) along the perimeter walls of Saint Peter’s Square warning that cardinals, like Mahony, who have been embroiled in the sex-abuse scandals are coming to town. Even the ultraconservative Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana, which is distributed for free in many Catholic churches each Sunday, has been weighing in on the topic. The influential magazine conducted an online survey among its faithful readers about whether Mahony should be allowed to participate in the election of the next pope (the overwhelming response was no). They then ran a damning op-ed piece called “Cardinal in Court” in which they called on Catholics to voice their opinions about the case. The American-based group Catholics United has also launched an online petition to urge Mahony to stay home. Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis suggested in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica that perhaps the right approach was if Mahony “could be advised not to take part only through a private intervention by someone with great authority”—which could mean the pope himself. Barbara Blaine of SNAP echoed that sentiment in a statement this week: “We hope that high ranking Vatican officials will instead preclude Mahony from attending the conclave and voting for the new Pope. His sordid record covering up child sex crimes should be considered a stain on the church and unworthy of a papal elector.”
Mahony’s may be the worst case, but he is certainly not the only cardinal elector stained by the church’s American sex-abuse scandals. On Wednesday the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, spent three hours answering questions under oath about pedophile priests under his clerical management during his time as the head of the Milwaukee diocese in Wisconsin from 2002 to 2009. While there, he allegedly used church money to pay “a handful” of predatory priests more than $20,000 to leave the priesthood quietly, a claim he originally denied until bankruptcy documents seemed to indicate that the payments were made.
Dolan, who has not been charged with any crime, will also head to Rome next week to prepare for the conclave. His name has been circulated as a potential pope, though that was before his deposition was made public this week. He is certainly not a favorite among the church abuse victims’ groups. “Dolan has been particularly adept at evading responsibility for his wrongdoing in clergy sex cases, having moved twice since the scandal started gaining international attention more than a decade ago, and having worked, three times, in states with especially archaic child-abuse laws that favor defendants,” says David Clohessy, head of SNAP. “Civil justice can expose predators and their enablers, but only criminal justice can imprison and deter them. So while these depositions represent progress, it’s crucial to remember that the best way to prevent and discourage future crimes and cover-ups is for secular authorities to investigate, charge, and convict Catholic officials who hide and enable heinous crimes against kids.”
The question of just who will vote in the conclave could prove pivotal in whether the church will be seen as addressing its dark history of well-documented abuse. If Mahony is somehow dissuaded from attending, many believe that it would send a message that the church is taking a different stance on abuse going forward and that this College of Cardinals will elect a pope who has as clean a record on the issue as possible.