Chicago Catholics Receive Letter on Priest Sex Abuse

Local Catholics received a letter in their parish bulletins Sunday with details about sexual misconduct among area priests.

Cardinal Francis George wrote the letter to all of the priests under his supervision, and requested that the letter be published in order to get in front of what he explains will be the “the actual records of these crimes.”

In the letter titled "Accountability and Transparency," George discusses a plan this week for the Chicago Archdiocese to release the names and details of 30 priests involved in sexual misconduct as part of an ongoing settlement agreement.

Cardinal George attended mass at St. Araneous parish in Park Forest Sunday morning, an although he didn't mention the letter to parishioners, he did speak with reporters beforehand.

"Since the publication of dossiers of events that happened in the 80s and before I got here, is going to nonetheless be the occasion for a lot of conversation now, so I thought I better put it in some perspective and that was the purpose of the letter," George said.

In the letter, George says most of the cases happened decades ago, and that he never assigned or transferred a priest that he know had sexually abused a child.

He also writes about former priest Daniel McCormack, who was convicted of sex abuse under the Cardinal's watch.

"Sometimes people think we all knew everything about him before, and we were reckless with children's concern and care, but he deceived a lot of people and was an abuser for many years," George said.

Some parishioners feel the letter was the right thing to do.

"It's increasingly important that this is dealt with by the church, and I see it happening more frequently," parishioner Mary Adami said.

But outside Holy Name Cathedral Sunday, protestors with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) say the letter minimized the abuse the victims suffered.

"Their pain and their struggles have not gone away with the perpetrator," SNAP's Kate Bochte said.

The names of priests known to have abused children have been published on the Archdiocese of Chicago's web site.

The Archdiocese responded to SNAP's accusations, describing them as "misstatements."

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