February 28, 2006

Abuse scandal erupts in Chicago



When Cardinal Francis George returned home to Chicago in late January after a trip to Rome, New Zealand and Thailand, he was confronted with perhaps the biggest challenge since he arrived here in 1997. It was an almost perfect storm -- a conjunction of allegation, accusation and acrimony, the sort of thing every U.S. bishop has been dreading since 2002 and that George, vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, had avoided until now.

First there was the arrest of Fr. Dan McCormack, 37, the popular pastor of St. Agatha Parish. He was accused Jan 21 of fondling two boys, now 11 and 13. This was not, like most accusations of the past, about something that happened 15 to 35 years ago. The alleged abuse had occurred between 2000 and 2005, even after the bishops’ 2002 zero-tolerance charter in Dallas, a document of which George himself had been a chief architect.

McCormack had been under suspicion and was questioned by police last August. However, the archdiocese left him in place at his parish, telling him not to be alone with children and assigning another priest to monitor him. Evidence indicates that McCormack may have continued to abuse children between August and December. He was removed from St. Agatha Jan. 21 after he was criminally charged.

Posted by kshaw at February 28, 2006 01:09 PM