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Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago

Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago

The sexual abuse scandal in Chicago archdiocese is a major chapter in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland.

Role of Joseph Bernardin

Archbishop Joseph Bernardin was among the first U.S. Cardinals or Bishops to confront the issue of sexual abuse by clergy. He also adapted a strong stance on sexual abuse cases within the clergy by implementing the strongest, most comprehensive policy concerning priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Bernardin’s reforms concerning this issue soon served as a model for other dioceses across the nation. [1]

Bernardin himself was accused of sexual misconduct. His accuser, former seminarian Stephen Cook, claimed to have been abused by Bernardin and another priest in the 1970s. However, Cook subsequently dropped Bernardin from his lawsuit, being no longer certain that his memories (which had emerged while he was under hypnosis) were accurate.[2]

Scandal under Cardinal George

Prior to the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal George had spoken with then Cardinal Ratzinger and asked for his assistance in the matter. After the election of Benedict XVI, the new Pope told Cardinal George that he remembered their previous conversation and that he would attend to the matter. [3]

While Cardinal George has had to deal with the fallout from clergy sexual abuse cases from many years ago, he has come under fire for his actions during a recent abuse case. Cardinal George took some responsibility for the affair, saying, “The sins of priests and bishops destroy the Church, and I think that’s what we’re seeing here.”[4]

McCormack affair

It is alleged that Rev. McCormack had abused two boys repeatedly from 2001 to 2005. Cardinal George has faced criticism for allowing McCormack to remain at his post after allegations first surfaced in August 2005. George has acknowledged that he had made mistakes in the case of the Rev. McCormack, who was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse on January 21, 2006.

At the time prosecutors were not able to move forward because there was not enough evidence. [5] Instead, McCormack was told to not have any unsupervised contact with minors and had a personal monitor assigned to him. Cardinal George has since indicated that had he known several months ago what he knew now that he would’ve removed McCormack from his duties right away.

Despite claims of following the Church’s procedures for dealing with child-molesting priests, diocesan authorities made no attempt to contact the police. Following this incident, the procedures for reporting abuse in Chicago were reportedly reevaluated by a panel and their importance was stressed.

Novels by Andrew Greeley

At the height of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, author Andrew Greeley wrote The Priestly Sins (2004), a novel about a young priest from the Plains States who is exiled to an insane asylum and then to an academic life because he reports abuse that he has witnessed. [6]

Fall from Grace is a 1993 novel by Father Greeley. It is a story of sin and corruption in leading Irish Catholic families in Chicago and the cover up of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis Pellegrini Death

Francis Pellegrini was an organist and choirmaster at a south side Chicago church, as well as a sociology professor at a city college. He was murdered on May 30, 1984. He was found in his home, with his hands tied with barbed wire having suffered multiple stab wounds. A friend of Mr. Pellegrini and an author of several books on the topic, Fr. Andrew Greeley, claims Mr. Pellegrini had a gay affair with a priest who along with other unnamed priests allegedly abused underprivileged youths.[7] Fr. Andrew Greeley refuses to share any information about the incidents or the perpetrators, but claims to have evidence of wrongdoing.[8]

Fr. Greeley has referred to the group of predators in several of his books, and claims a broad conspiracy prevents the exposure of perpetrators. “There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them,” he wrote. [9]

Alejandro Flores

In 2010 Alejandro Flores, who was ordained a Priest in 2010 was convicted of the continual sexual molestation of a pre-pubescent boy since 2005.[10]




Letter from Voice of the Faithful to Bishop McCormick of NH Diocese

New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful
P.O. Box 423
Concord, NH 03302-0423
January 9, 2003

Most Reverend John B. McCormack, D.D.
Diocese of Manchester
153 Ash St.
P.O. Box 310
Manchester NH 03105-0310

Dear Bishop McCormack:

The Steering Committee of New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful, representing eight chapters statewide, is deeply troubled by revelations this week of a previous bishop’s destruction of records associated with sexual abuse by a priest, and of records possibly destroyed under your own administration. A diocesan public relations spokesman said documents have not been destroyed since November 2000, leaving two years after your installation here in 1998 when such activity may have occurred. We find these disclosures alarming, since the permanent integrity of all diocesan documents going forward is a vital concern. Without the records of past sexual abuse by clergy, harmful practices endorsed less than one year ago might still be in effect today.

Given this history, we are sensitive to the implications of your agreement last month with Attorney General Philip McLaughlin that avoided criminal prosecution of the diocese. That agreement allows the destruction of the records of deceased priests accused of sexual misconduct upon the death of the accused. As the result of a recent tragedy involving the untimely death of a priest, you are now theoretically in a position to destroy his records.

We urge you to publicly pledge that the diocese will not destroy any more records associated with sexual abuse allegations against any priest, whether living or deceased. These records are a crucial archive of how the diocese has handled allegations in the past, how it is doing today, and how it will handle them in the future. We believe all these records, not just a summary of each one, should be maintained as a permanent archive. This is necessary both to provide a lasting record of the diocese’s response to these cases, and to keep them available as a resource for survivors of abuse who have not yet come forward. Such actions merely fulfill your own promise to assure the preeminence of the healing of those harmed over any other concern of the diocese (December 15, 2002 homily). We heartily support this focus and pray it will be implemented.

According to the diocese’s own numbers, released at the press conference announcing the agreement with the Attorney General, 43% of the New Hampshire diocesan priests involved in sexual abuse allegations are deceased. The diocese’s records on these priests can provide vital validation for survivors in coming to grips with the enormity of the abuse and betrayal they experienced. Ultimately, those records belong to the people of this diocese, and it is imperative that they be preserved.

The agreement with the Attorney General allows the diocese to destroy these records; it does not require that you destroy them. We ask you to immediately and publicly pledge to retain every page of every record of every priest ever accused of sexual misconduct in a permanent archive that will be an essential part of the diocese’s efforts to provide greater accountability on these cases.

We believe a strong and prompt pledge from the diocese to maintain these records will be a tremendous help in rebuilding the bridge of trust between the Church and those who are heartbroken and disillusioned by this crisis, as you yourself must be.


Peter Flood, coordinator
New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful

Destruction of records of pedophile priests by the NH Diocese

Monsignor: N.H. Priest Files Destroyed To Conceal Abuse Evidence

Union Leader Staff – January 8, 2003

A Manchester historian said he discovered some clergy personnel files empty while researching his history on the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, leading him to conclude they had been destroyed.

“It was my very strong impression that some files had been destroyed and the files were destroyed because of incriminating evidence,” Monsignor Wilfrid H. Paradis said in an interview Monday.

Paradis said he now believes the files he discovered stripped of their contents or containing just one to three sheets of paper involved priests accused of child sexual abuse or sexual misconduct with adults.

Appalled by the pervasive clergy sexual-abuse scandal and the hurt inflicted on children, he blames it in part on the fraternal culture of the clergy and its instinct to protect itself.

“We are not going to be able to save the brethren by destroying archives and putting clergy first before the spiritual and physical and emotional good of the children,” he said.

Paradis, 80, said he had complete access to diocesan archives and other church records while researching his book, “Upon This Granite: Catholicism in New Hampshire 1647-1997,” published in 1998.

But he did not review the diocese’s secret archives. He didn’t ask to look at them and doubted “I would have been given permission anyway.”

Paradis recalled that while doing his most intensive research, from 1980 to 1996, he found at least a half-dozen clergy personnel files that contained almost no record of their years of service. They lacked details of their parish assignments and correspondence typically found in priests’ files.

“The file is absent. The file is gone,” Paradis recounted.

“I remember clearly at that time feeling that this had been destroyed and the reason for the destruction would have been something in that person’s life that they did not want to come to light after his death, to protect the person I suppose and also to protect the greater good of the church,” the retired priest and Manchester native said.

He would not identify the priests.

In some cases, the files may have been destroyed upon the death of the priest or before the installation of a new bishop when diocesan officials would “clean house,” Paradis said.

“Some people would take it upon themselves to just go through some of this material and feel that it is better destroyed than to keep it,” he said.

In addition, Paradis said he found a few cases of priests accused of sexual abuse of children and a few of priests accused of sexual misconduct with adults, usually women.

In some instances, he was able to reconstruct these priests’ histories by working through parish and other church records, he said.

“I did run into some cases (of sexual misconduct), but not an alarming number . . . not enough to send out any signals,” he said.

But nowhere did he glean the extensiveness of the problem exposed in the past year.

“I knew there were things like this, but I had no idea the extent of it, the number of priests involved and the number of cases of people who have been violated,” he said.

Some of the recently accused priests “are people I never would have thought would have been involved in anything of that nature,” he said.

A state prosecutor who has reviewed at least 11,000 pages of diocesan and investigative files related to clergy sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s yesterday acknowledged some documents are missing from church files.

“It will be clear when we release the papers what is there and what isn’t there,” Senior Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker said.

The documents are expected to be released to the public by Feb. 10 as part of an agreement struck between the attorney general and the diocese last month.

Investigators uncovered information in witness and victim interviews, police reports and other sources that enabled them to determine documents were missing from church files, he said.

“I don’t want to characterize what they did, but there was stuff removed from the files, and it’s reflected in their own documents,” he said.

A lawyer representing more than 60 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse suing the diocese said in a recent court motion that retired Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed documents detailing child sexual abuse by the Revs. Philip Petit and Gordon MacRae.

The record destruction, attorney Mark Abramson argued, amounts to fraudulent concealment.

Diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said church personnel files may include privileged medical records.

“If the priest or (his) medical provider request that the document provided be returned or destroyed, the diocese has complied with such requests in the past,” McGee said.

But Delker said investigators found more than privileged medical materials absent from church files.

“There was stuff beyond that that was missing,” Delker said.

McGee said no records regarding allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest or church employee, including medical records, have been destroyed since November 2000.

Regarding Paradis’ assertions, McGee said he is not aware of any materials being destroyed, but could not rule that out.

Noting Paradis hadn’t examined the secret archives, McGee said, “There is information that may have been moved from one file to another, but that is purely speculation.”

In addition, Paradis concurred with the attorney general’s conclusion that the diocese reassigned abusive priests who later abused other children.

“I am well aware that this was true,” he said. “This actually happened. This isn’t just a fabrication.”

While the church often treated clergy sexual abuse as a “personal” or “spiritual” problem, Paradis credits the media with exposing the crisis as a crime that, given the number of young victims left in its wake, carries widespread social and civil ramifications.

“I’m fundamentally relieved that the press has picked up on this issue and is forcing us to look at ourselves in the mirror,” he said.

“We as church are supposed to be guardians of public morality. So when we as priests are offenders of public morality, then we should at least know it and do something about it,” he added.

A decorated World War II veteran, diocesan historian and official expert at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Paradis said the clergy sexual abuse crisis will probably have repercussions in the church for generations to come.

“This is one of the most crucial scandals, and it’s one of the very critical issues of our time in the Catholic church. It’s definitely part of our history and how we have contaminated to a certain degree the very people that we are entrusted to care for,” he said.

Victims of Clergy Abuse Deserve Justice

Enough is enough. The victims of Clergy Abuse Deserve Justice. We the victims of the sick and twisted priests of the Roman Catholic Church and his High Unholiness the Perverted Papal Bullshitter Pope Benedict and his protectors need to be tossed into prison period. All statue of limitations and protections for these sick and twisted perverts should be immediately removed. They are pedophiles and perverts being protected under the Vatican being it’s own country and having it’s own rules and laws. Their laws state it is perfectly normal to rape and abuse a child. The Papal Bullshitter himself stated in one of his christmas addresses that child porno is considered normal as well as sex between an adult and a child.

So you people of the Roman Catholic Church are protecting your perverted priest and pope at the sake of your religion and at the destruction of the children eh? You RCC adherents are just as damn guilty as your priests, bishops and pope who covered this shit up. When are YOU adherents of the RCC going to DEMAND full accountability for what your priests and church leaders have done to children? Is it you just want to be ostriches and stick your heads in the sand and hope this scandal goes away and vanishes like a fart in the wind?

It is NOT gonna happen as long as victims of your perverted priests and pope such as I are still living and breathing.

In March of 1975 a priest at St Thomas Moore Church in Durham New Hampshire raped me. He destroyed my mind, heart, soul and body. My life has been a living hell since then. Now I am fighting back. I will NOT go quietly into that good night. I will fight these perverts to my last breath and I dedicate the rest of my life fighting this sick and twisted group of pedophiles and child rapists.