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Sunday, 05 April 2009 03:17

Chicago's Cardinal George: Embarrassed that Obama is Notre Dame Speaker, But Not Embarrassed to Harbor Pedophile Priest

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A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

Cardinal George of Chicago has a soft spot for pedophile priests – and is not embarrassed by letting them stay in his mansion or on the job, but he is, in brazen hypocrisy, embarrassed that the President of the United States will be the Notre Dame commencement speaker.

Now that’s the kind of thing that not only gives religious self-righteousness a bad name, it is a frightening disregard of the impact of priests who sexually abuse children.

Is BuzzFlash exaggerating?

Hardly not.

Read this long excerpt from Beliefnet.com about objections to Cardinal George becoming the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007:

The problem is that George shows little indication of having internalized the lessons of the scandal. He displays a stunning insensitivity to the church's failures. And twice since the 2002 conference in Dallas that adopted the youth protection charter, George has flouted the church's supposed zero-tolerance attitude in his handling of abusive priests.

The first instance involves Cardinal George's allowing a convicted pederast priest -- he'd pled guilty, and received a suspended sentence -- to stay at his mansion during monthly visits to Chicago. When this ongoing hospitality was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, the cardinal bristled.

When Sun-Times reporter Cathleen Falsani asked George why he had allowed Martin to stay in his official residence after his misdeeds had become known, and why the priest was still working for the archdiocese as a consultant, George did not apologize but defended his colleague. "Are we saying that people with any kind of question in their past are not employable?" he responded.

More:

"When I read the Sun-Times," said former Rep. Leon Panetta [now head of the CIA], a California Democrat who served on the National Review Board [appointed by the bishops to assess the fallout from the abuse scandal, and to recommend reforms] and was one of those who had met with George that week, "it confirmed for me what is at the heart of this [pedophile priest] problem -- the [Catholic] hierarchy's failure to understand the seriousness of the crisis."
Members of the National Review Board made a second trip to Chicago nearly a year later to consult with the cardinal. George celebrated Mass for them, but then, according to three sources present at the meeting, he issued a warning over coffee and doughnuts: "You will be the downfall of the church!".

The second case involves the 2005 matter of Father Daniel McCormack, whom George allowed to remain in school ministry, teaching and coaching kids, after his own archdiocesan review board recommended removal following a mother's charge that McCormack had molested her 8-year-old son. And then:

In January 2006, McCormack was arrested on charges of sexually abusing another boy at the school. When asked about it, the cardinal, incredulously, said he had taken no action because he had had no information from law enforcement. McCormack has since pleaded guilty and gone to jail.
The archdiocese [take note] did take action against Barbara Westrick, the school's principal, who had called the police after she learned of the complaint against the priest. She was fired in June. Although the archdiocese denies it, it seems likely that her criticisms of the church's response cost her her job.

It is nothing short of stunning that the victims of these clericalist attitudes have been Catholic children and Catholic families -- but some bishops, acting like tribal chieftains, try to blame those outside the Church for their problems.

Among cardinals who were slow in responding to allegations of rampant child abuse in the priesthood, Cardinal George was probably in the middle. He did what he was compelled to do by outside forces, but nothing more. And his true feelings that the child abuse issues by priests were being "used" to defame the collegial priesthood are exemplified by the incidents cited above. After all, he not only let a self-confessed pedophile priest stay at the Chicago Archdiocese mansion on the Gold Coast and be retained as a "consultant," Cardinal George "bristled" that anyone should think it inappropriate.

So fast forward to 2009.

According to all the Chicago newspapers, "Cardinal George rips ND for inviting Obama" (as the Chicago Southtown Economist headlined):

Cardinal Francis George called the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at its commencement an "extreme embarrassment" to Catholics.

"It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," said George, who made his remarks at a conference Sunday hosted by the Chicago Archdiocese's Respect Life office in Rosemont.

In a video of George's speech posted Wednesday on lifesitenews.com, George calls Notre Dame "the flagship Catholic university" and said that it has "brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic."

So, it is not an embarrassment to host and lodge pedophile priests and let others continue to have contact with children, but it is an embarrassment to have the President of the United States speak at the flagship Catholic University? These are warped priorities that are as destructive to victims of priest sex abuse as they are an insult to the Presidency.

Fortunately, Notre Dame is not succumbing to Cardinal George’s tolerance for pedophiles and intolerance for such life-saving research as stem-cell research. To Notre Dame’s credit as a leading place of higher learning, it is not backing down: "Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, previously said the university does not condone all of the president's policies, but it's valuable to engage in conversation and there are no plans to rescind the invitation."

Clearly, there are many fine priests committed to the teachings of Christ, but Cardinal George sullies them by – shall we say – being as chummy with pedophile priests as if they had just been guilty of unpaid parking tickets.

Many young people sexually abused by priests never fully recover, and their families experience the dreadful pain of betrayal and coping with the after effects.

Cardinal George should spend more time dealing with these victims than dishonoring the President of the United States and the prestigious tradition of Notre Dame.

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS