Archdiocese to release unseen sex abuse files - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Archdiocese to release unseen sex abuse files

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Parishioners whom left mass at Holy Name Cathedral Sunday, received a letter from Cardinal George titled, ‘Accountability and Transparency.'

The Archdiocese of Chicago is making an effort to get ahead of the bad publicity that might arise later this week, when legal settlements will result in the release of previously unseen church documents about the crimes of 30 abusive priests. Most of the priests are already named on the archdiocese website with substantiated allegations against them.

According to Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney involved in the suit, the documents contain "not just the histories of the offenders, but those who made the choice to protect them...top officials current and past."

In the letter Cardinal George wrote, "…publishing for all to read the actual record of these crimes raises transparency to a new level. It will be helpful, we pray, for some, but painful for many."

Catholics remain torn on how the church has handled abuse accusations.

"I have no clue what the best way to go is for the kids because that's all that really matters," one parishioner said.

Many hope the church will be transparent with its followers. "Especially when young people are in the limelight here, so transparency is a good thing," another parishioner added.

Members of the group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, vocalized their disappointment in the Cardinal's response.

"We don't like the spin on Cardinal George's letter. And this kind of spin, of not being open and transparent, deletes the main purpose in keeping children first and keeping children safe," SNAP advocate Mary Lou O'Halloran said.

The letter detailed a specific case that involved former priest Daniel McCormack. McCormack pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Cardinal admitted in the letter that there were a number of warning signals about McCormack's behavior. He wrote, "the response, in retrospect, was not always adequate to all the facts, but a mistake is not a cover up."

In response, Kate Bochte from SNAP said, "It was not a mistake; it was willful negligence on the part of the Archdiocese."

"Cardinal George is playing the blame game and its really a shame that he's acting like this," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "I think he's trying to push off the problems with Father Dan McCormack onto Cardinal Bernardin. I think that Cardinal George was reckless and deceptive and he made decisions that put the reputation of priests and the archdiocese above the protection of kids."

The Archdiocese of Chicago responded to SNAP's protest Sunday and said in part they strongly deny the group's claim that the Church has not been proactive to identify and prevent abuse. The Archdiocese added it continues to encourage any victims to come forward.

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