Ahead of abuse report, Cardinal George sends letter to parishioners

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The Catholic Archdiocese will release a report detailing sexual abuse cases in the Chicago area on January 15th.

The report is 8 years in the making and details 30 offenders and over 40 survivor.

A week or so after the 15th, the public will get its first glance at it.  Lawyers want time to put it in a readable format and they also want to make sure victims making sexual abuse claims are properly protected.

Today, in a letter to parishioners, Cardinal George attempted to prepare the public. He says the information will “be helpful, we pray, for some. But painful for many.”

The letter will be printed in church bulletins over the weekend. It addresses the painful scandal.  It also refutes some facts for the first time. Cardinal George states his case saying in part, “Neither in Chicago nor in any previous posting as a bishop or a religious superior have I assigned to pastoral ministry or transferred for ministry a priest whom I knew to have sexually abused a child.”

His letter goes to great lengths to address the sexual crimes by Fr. Daniel McCormack. McCormack made headlines for years and was eventually prosecuted.  Critics of the church suggest he was protected time and time again. To that, Cardinal George tells parishioners, “From the time he was arrested and released to the time that he was arrested a second time and eventually plead guilty, no one involved in investigating the allegation, not even the review board that struggled with their justified concerns, told me they thought he was guilty. … The response, in retrospect, was not always adequate to all the facts, but a mistake is not a cover up.”

In trying to distance himself further from the McCormack case and crimes, Cardinal George makes one thing clear about the felony priest’s past saying, “He had been ordained by Cardinal Bernardin, who vetted his seminary record. He was already, before I became Archbishop, appointed to a seminary faculty, a position of trust.”

What else can come of the soon to be released reports is unclear. Further legal action is not likely and what the church may do in reaction is another story.  And, of course, there is always the chance that more people claiming to be victims will be prompted to come forward after seeing the courage of others.

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