Sunday, January 31, 2010

Archdiocese accused of silence about abusers

Archdiocese accused of silence about abusers
Saturday, January 30, 2010
By John Seymore
Citing recent reports that current and former Roman Catholic religious workers accused of molesting minors are housed near schools or living in undisclosed locations, victims’ advocates are criticizing the Chicago Archdiocese for staying silent about all accused clergy, teachers or volunteers with Chicago ties.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the archdiocese is falling back on secrecy despite promises since 2002 to be transparent.

The protest stems from a long-standing discrepancy between how dioceses and religious orders alert the public about clergy facing credible allegations.

“Members of a religious community are accountable to their major superior, not the archdiocese,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “Any allegation of professional or sexual misconduct that can be made against a brother is the responsibility of the religious congregation to which he belongs. The community is responsible for investigating and reporting allegations.”

Blaine said the distinction is “splitting hairs.” If an alleged abuser has any Chicago ties, whether he’s a native, served the church in Chicago or moved to Chicago after being removed from ministry elsewhere, the archdiocese should publicize his whereabouts.

Blaine cited the example of Joseph Lundowski, a church volunteer accused of molesting dozens of children in western Alaska in the 1960s and 1970s. On Monday, the Diocese of Fairbanks settled a lawsuit including claims against Lundowski for more than $9 million.

Blaine said Lundowski later returned to Chicago, and the church should have let people know when the suit was filed in 2004, eight years after Lundowski died.

She said the same is true in the case of former priest Frank Paduch, sued in 1997 for allegedly abusing a youth at St. Rita High School on Chicago’s South Side. The Chicago Archdiocese and Augustinian religious order reached a settlement two years later. The city of Berwyn hired Paduch several years later as its advocate for senior citizens. Berwyn police are investigating after the Survivors Network protested.

“If we want to have a safe society, people have to work together,” said Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She argues for transparency to enable that process. “

The Rev. Paul Lininger, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, insists it’s up to each religious order to publicize names, but impossible to keep track of men after they’ve left.

That’s why Lininger said accused men are encouraged to stay within religious orders so they can be housed and held accountable for their actions.

But Blaine said that’s not effective. She has encountered at least one young person who knows Brother Anthony “Raimond” Rose, a Christian Brother named in multiple lawsuits for allegedly abusing students at two schools in Minnesota. Rose lives with other brothers next to De La Salle Institute, a coed high school run by the religious order.

“It’s reckless for them to live in that community,” Blaine said.

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