SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims
For Immediate Release:
June 8, 2007
For More Information:
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President 312 399 4747
David Clohessy of St. Louis SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688
Sex Abuse Victims To Hold Vigil Backing Fired Catholic Principal
Woman Who Spoke of Crimes Is Off Payroll; Man Who Committed Crimes Is Not
Cardinal Forces Her To Leave School But Won’t Force Him Into Treatment Center
For 1.5 Years, Criminal & Civil Charges Have Been Pending Against Fr. McCormack
Yet He’s Still Not Mentioned On Archdiocesan Website’s List of “Credibly Accused”
And Not One Complicit Church Employee Has Been Disciplined For Cover Up, Even Now
SNAP Says Others Who Were Hurt by Molesters Or Witnessed Abuse Should Speak Up
The day after a whistleblower Catholic principal was fired for criticizing Chicago’s cardinal, Catholics and clergy molestation victims will hold a half hour vigil to remember and honor
-- all current and former church members and employees who’ve quit or been fired for speaking out about clergy sex crimes and cover ups, and
-- all children who’ve been victimized by Chicago clerics, especially by Fr. Daniel McCormack
Friday, June 8, 1:30 p.m.
Outside St Agatha's Catholic Church, 3147 W. Douglas Blvd in Chicago (773) 522-1354
A few child sex abuse victims who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), a few Chicago Catholics, and one or two parents of kids who attend the school where Fr. McCormack molested children.
The group will hold childhood photos and two posters comparing and contrasting the principal (“reported crimes, is off the church payroll”) the predator priest (“committed crimes, still on the church payroll”).
Yesterday, Barbara Westrick, an educator for 37 years, was ousted from her job as principal of Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School. She and many observers are convinced the move is retaliation for her honest public comments about the deception archdiocesan mishandling of the Fr. Daniel McCormack case.
Almost a year and a half ago, McCormack was criminally charged and civilly sued for molesting several boys. Chicago’s Catholic community was roiled by revelations that church officials refused to suspend McCormack from active ministry despite a) his being arrested, b) multiple abuse reports and c) church documents showing that McCormack had been repeatedly accused of abuse for years.
Despite a damaging internal church probe that showed the “failure of various archdiocesan departments,” not a single church employee has been disciplined or even censured for their role or secrecy in the McCormack case.
Most of the group wants Cardinal Francis George to
-- discipline even one of the church officials who enabled McCormack to keep molesting,
-- force McCormack to live in a secure treatment center (instead of with relatives), and
-- list McCormack on his archdiocesan list of ‘credibly accused’ child molesting clerics.
(Even now, one year later, McCormack is not listed on the archdiocese’s list of ‘substantiated sex abuse allegations’ against priests)
SNAP urges anyone who suspected, witnessed or experienced abuse by clerics to come forward.
McCormack, 42, was ordained in 1994 and worked at St. Alibe church, St. Joseph Seminary (formerly Niles College)and Holy Family church.
See news video http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=5376205
Principal who criticized archdiocese fired By Karen Jordan
June 7, 2007 - A Catholic school principal who spoke out against the Chicago archdiocese's handling of a priest abuse case has been fired from her job.
Barbara Westrick was dismissed Thursday as head of Our Lady of the Westside School.
Father Daniel McCormack is accused of fondling boys at that school and its parish, St. Agatha's on Chicago's West Side. Westrick said she did not heed the warnings about repercussions for criticizing the Chicago archdiocese in the way it handled the Father Daniel McCormack alleged abuse scandal. A few months ago, a deadline to renew her contract passed and no action was taken.
She said there was no question that the Archdiocese was waiting for the right time to fire her.
"I just gave up my keys and I haven't said goodbye to my staff because I'm not supposed to come back," Westrick said.
Westrick said she knew the end was near and it became official Thursday. The archdiocese delivered the news that afternoon in a closed door meeting with Westrick and her attorney.
"The Cardinal is angry with me because I am the one who blew the whistle on the McCormack thing," Westrick said.
Westrick said the job termination is payback for criticizing Francis Cardinal George for letting McCormack stay at the school after he was arrested in August of 2005 and accused of molesting a young male student.
Westrick said she found out about the alleged abuse when a boy at the school told her in January of 2006 that McCormack molested him.
"The Cardinal allowed him to abuse them from September to December because he wouldn't take them out of the parish," Westrick said.
Westrick says she reported the alleged abuse to the Archdiocese and the police. Father McCormack was charged with several counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
She also criticized the archdiocese and the Cardinal about the situation and said that is why the school's new priest didn't renew her contract.
Father Larry Dowling said the termination was not payback but the result of an extensive review of her abilities.
"She was terminated based on my evaluation of her," Dowling said.
Westrick was principal for four years and left Thursday with only a picture as a reminder of the 200 students she will leave behind.
She said she is not sorry for speaking out about a situation that she felt was harmful to her students.
"I would do it again," Westrick said. "I would do it a hundred times again because these kid are not throwaways."
Father Dowling did not list the reasons he had for terminating Westrick. He said that the archdiocese does not discuss personnel matters.
Westrick and her attorney will review the termination letter and determine whether any legal action will be taken.
Meanwhile, Father McCormack will appear in court again on July 2.