Tuesday, January 31, 2006

George: "I'm Sorry"

Cardinal George of Chicago faced a very angry group of parishioners last night.
"I'm sorry to be with you because this occasion is one that shames me certainly," George said.

The crowd of more than 200 at St. Agatha Catholic Church hammered him with the same question again and again about the abuse allegations against Rev. Daniel McCormack that date back to 2000: Why didn't we know sooner?

The emotional meeting came on the same day that another allegation against McCormack surfaced, at least the fifth in less than two weeks.

The latest abuse occurred over the last 24 months and happened repeatedly, said Jeff Anderson, the lawyer for the latest alleged victim.

Neither Anderson nor law enforcement officials would rule out the possibility that some of the alleged abuse took place while McCormack was being monitored by the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese. The archdiocese appointed a priest to monitor McCormack's contact with children at the rectory after the first allegation was made against him in August....

On Monday night, George made himself a target for criticism at his meeting with parishioners at St. Agatha.

"I am truly sorry that you had as a pastor someone accused of molesting small children," he said.

Several at the meeting said they felt angry and betrayed by the way the archdiocese handled the allegations against McCormack.

"Right now, I have a trust issue with the archdiocese. And if you don't have a trust issue, you should. I need my answers, sir, I really do," said Tara Rice, 37, a parent of children at Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School, housed inside St Agatha

"Why was Dan McCormack still here?"

Mary McLauren, who oversees the after-school program, said that she repeatedly saw young boys knocking on the rectory's back door during the fall, when McCormack was meant to be monitored.

"He did not do what you told him to do," she screamed at the cardinal. "I am hurting. I pray that the Lord will forgive me for not speaking out earlier."

George once again said that the archdiocese had not received an allegation in August, only a notification from law enforcement that McCormack had been questioned.