poor record keeping

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 26, 2006

37-year-old Chicago archdiocesan priest Fr. Dan McCormack has been accused of unnatural vice with boys between the ages of 9 and 12. It appears this particular weakness had surfaced in the past. A Chicago Sun-Times story recounts the dealings a religious sister who taught in a parish elementary school had with McCormack in 2000:

"[A student's mother] said her son said he went back to get the book, and Father Dan was there. So he said to Father Dan, 'I'd like to be an altar boy. Could I learn how?' And [McCormack] said, 'Oh sure,' he said, 'but I need to measure you. Take down your pants,' " the nun said. "I thought, this has got to be a mistake. So I gave [the mother] his phone number, I had his phone number, and said, 'I'm sure there's an explanation.' "

The nun said she and the boy's mother left many messages for McCormack throughout the week that followed, but by Thursday night, they had heard nothing in return. The nun said she left one last message for the priest, telling him the mother would be waiting for him at church the next day to confront him about her son's charge.

Early the next morning, before Friday mass, McCormack was waiting and met with the mother of the boy alone, the nun said. "She came out and said, 'Sister, everything's fine. It was a big misunderstanding. Everything's fine. Don't pursue it,'" the nun recalled. "Then Father Dan came out. I said, 'What happened?' He's looking down at the floor, and he's very light skinned, and his face is all red, and he said, 'I used very poor judgment.'

"And I said, 'Did you ask this boy to take down his pants?' And he still said, 'I used very poor judgment.' I said, 'Can you give me a yes or no?' And he said, 'I used very poor judgment, and I have to go,' " she said.

Ah yes, poor judgment. Happens to all of us. During this period, you'll be edified to learn, McCormack had served as Director of Liturgy, Dean of Admissions, Dean of Students, and Formation Director at St. Joseph's Junior Seminary. The religious sister mentioned above decided to put the incident on record. Back to the Sun-Times article:

The nun said she then called an official from Chicago Catholic Schools to report all that had gone on and was told by the administrator, "If the parents aren't pushing it, let it go." She didn't. She called a few more times, the nun said, and eventually wrote down her concerns and allegations in a letter that she hand-delivered to the school administrator in late winter or early spring 2000.

"I wanted it on file. I wanted something in writing because I knew in my heart ..," the nun said, her voice trailing off.

It seems Sister had "trust issues" with her employer, alas. Now why do you suppose that would be?

Last Thursday, the day before McCormack was arrested at his brother's house in Orland Hills, the nun says she received a phone call from a different Catholic schools administrator.

"He said, 'Do you remember,' and I said, 'DO I REMEMBER? You don't forget something like that!' " the nun said. She told the story about the boy in 2000 again and asked about the letter she had delivered to school officials. The school official she spoke to last week said the nun's letter was nowhere to be found. "It's outrageous," the nun said.

Later in the same year as the incident (2000) McCormack was reassigned to St. Agatha Parish. Probably just a coincidence. You can read an uplifting 2002 interview with Fr. Dan here. This bit is particularly poignant:

My feelings [about the clerical abuse crisis] are the same as any other Catholic: sorrow, embarrassment, and anger. However, it is multiplied because I happen to wear a collar. But in saying that, we must move beyond the cross and celebrate resurrection. In a small way, my brother priests and me have experienced the cross in a profound way.

Because of the present crisis in the church, we are a very wounded group of men. We gathered in support of each other and our ministries. But it was amazing, the talk was not 'woe is me' but how can we heal the church for the faithful. Our conversation revolved around you, the people of the church.

Director of Liturgy, Dean of Admissions, Dean of Students, Formation Director. I guess that's why the current seminary visitation is largely a matter of "fine tuning."

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