Tribune staff reporter
Published April 13, 2006
Robert Costello recalls how his mother used to draw the window shades in the afternoon hours of Good Friday so the family could contemplate Jesus Christ's suffering during the hours Christ hung on the cross.
This year Costello is coming to Chicago from his home in Norwood, Mass., to hold a vigil Friday outside Holy Name Cathedral and ponder the pain of children allegedly abused by Rev. Daniel McCormack, a Chicago priest.
Costello and other Catholics from Massachusetts, Indiana, Kentucky and New York also will petition peacefully for Cardinal Francis George to resign as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
McCormack, 37, served in several churches despite allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to his time in the seminary. Prosecutors have charged the priest with sexually abusing three boys at his West Side parish.
Subsequent audits commissioned by George revealed more than 30 missteps and oversights in the handling of the McCormack case that put children at risk.
"[The cardinal's] treatment of this whole thing is just unacceptable," Costello said. "He helped write the Dallas charter and the norms, and he knew better."
But calls for his resignation have not been widespread. Since McCormack's arrest, four groups have asked George to step down, three in Illinois.
Last month, the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests demanded George's resignation.
Earlier this week, Chicago-based Call to Action, a liberal reform group, pressed George to resign or use his influence to push other bishops to comply with church guidelines for handling abuse allegations. And on Wednesday, a conservative group called Roman Catholic Faithful based in Petersburg, Ill., called for him to step down.
Boston-based Voice of the Faithful asked that George resign as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Voice of the Faithful chapters in other states such as New York and Connecticut also have called for him to resign.
Voice of the Faithful members in Chicago have so far resisted, a move that has drawn fire from church reform advocates.
But unlike the crisis that erupted in Boston in 2002, there is no national or local consensus. The largest group to sound the alarm is Call to Action, which claims 25,000 members. Experts say that matters little in an archdiocese of 2.4 million.
The anger directed at George is not comparable to the outrage that engulfed Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002, said Steve Krueger, founding president of Voice of the Faithful.
"No one feels comfortable at all in calling for the resignation of a bishop," Krueger said. "At the same time, we've had over 10,000 children abused and over 4,000 priests identified, but only one bishop has been held accountable so far."
Colleen Dolan, communications director for the Chicago archdiocese, said the Good Friday vigil on the day Catholics commemorate Christ's death is bad timing.
"To be disruptive, even silently disruptive, is disrespectful," she said. The cardinal "cannot change the past. He can change the future."
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