Chicago Sun-Times. May 10, 2021.

Editorial: Catholic religious orders must come clean about abusive clergy

Despite public pressure, some orders still resist telling the full truth about sexual abuse allegations, as the Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth has reported.

A clerical sex abuse scandal has rocked the Catholic Church for decades now, and to our way of thinking, full disclosure is the only way for the church to put the scandal completely to rest.

Every independent religious order must follow the lead of the rest of the Church and come clean about abusive priests in their ranks.

A number of those independent orders — among them the Jesuits and Carmelites — have made the only correct moral and ethical choice. They now publicly disclose the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of abusing minors. But other independent orders have stubbornly resisted full disclosure of the details regarding abusive clergy, as the Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth has reported in a recent investigative series.

Take, as one example, the Marist Brothers, who run Marist High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side. The order, as Herguth reported Sunday, kept abuse allegations against a clergy member, Brother Robert Ryan, secret for years while moving him from school to school across the country. Ryan, lawsuits allege, abused minors at every assignment, including students attending Marist in the 1970s.

At Marist, Ryan’s “sexual abuse of minor boys worsened in both frequency and intensity . . . and he began to engage in more violent conduct, such as anal rape and sodomy,” according to one lawsuit.

The Marists never informed police or parents about the abuse allegations. Nor has the order ever made public Ryan’s name, or the name of any other Marist clergy who have been credibly accused of abuse.

The Marists are not alone. Other orders that have declined to release the names of allegedly abusive clergy include the Augustinians, who run Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox; the Dominicans, who operate Fenwick High School in Oak Park. and the Passionists, who formerly served Immaculate Conception parish on the Far Northwest Side and ran the church school.

Cardinal Blase Cupich’s office has for several years collected information on allegedly abusive priests from the religious orders. But the Archdiocese of Chicago has so far left it up to the orders to decide whether or not to publicly release that information.

We hope that will change, given a pledge by the archdiocese to disclose the names of abusive clergy.

“We have been in discussions with religious orders about how their members, under their jurisdiction and control, who are credibly accused, are to be publicly listed,” an archdiocese spokesman wrote in a statement to WTTW following its recent coverage of the Sun-Times reporting.

Full disclosure and transparency are the only way to fully restore the moral authority of the church and the well-being of those who have been abused by its clergy.


Champaign News-Gazette. May 9, 2021.

Editorial: Keep LaSalle coronavirus investigation within proper bounds

Release of an investigative report on the coronavirus outbreak at a state veterans home has produced the expected political whirlwind.

Politicians of every stripe are falling all over themselves to express outrage over what occurred, demand further investigation into the sickness and loss of life that occurred and oversee improvements that ensure there will be no repeat of what transpired.

Fine. That’s all well and good. Let legislators shine a bright light into the dark web of official incompetence and indifference and allow the chips to fall where they may. But there ought to be a limit to this political free-for-all, and Republicans have shown some interest in exceeding it.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has suggested a criminal investigation be conducted into what occurred.

“I wouldn’t say we’re at the level of probable cause, but it certainly does warrant further investigation on whether or not criminal negligence did take place because not only were (veterans) injured and became ill, but we did have deaths at that facility,” said Durkin.

Durkin’s suggestion reflects an evil that has attached itself to politics in this state and country — the criminalizing of policy differences or failures. It’s become a new — and particularly vicious — method of tarring the opposition.

Calls for a criminal investigation are based on an inspector general’s report that found widespread failures in how the Veterans Affairs Department handled the coronavirus at its LaSalle facility. Thirty-six people died, at least in part due to the state’s failure to prepare for an outbreak and handle it once it occurred.

The report outlined a litany of failures, mostly of leadership. It started at the top of the agency with a leader who “abdicated” her responsibilities and ran down to LaSalle administrators who were not up to the challenge they confronted.

There is no reason to believe these failures — as egregious as they were — were intentional, and intent is a key element when it comes to criminal investigations.

Chalk up the LaSalle disaster to the traditional flaws that surround government in Illinois — purely political appointments that lead to incompetent administration of state programs.

Republicans’ suggestions come as no surprise. They are finding it hard to resist the temptation of payback. In 2018, shortly before Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s election as governor, Attorney General Lisa Madigan office disclosed that it was conducting a criminal investigation of then-Gov. Bruce Rauner in connection with the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veteran’s home.

There was no intentional wrongdoing associated with the Legionnaires’ disease. State officials made numerous failed attempts to eradicate the health threat.

Was there incompetence? Sure. Was there criminal misconduct that amounted to an intentional effort to allow the spread? Of course not.

Just a few weeks ago, new Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced the Rauner et al investigation was over and that no one would be charged. That was always how it was going to end because it was nothing but a disgusting political ploy.

It’s hard to imagine that a similar investigation into LaSalle would be any different, and that’s why initiating a criminal investigation now would be an abuse of power.

Legislators should be encouraged to investigate thoroughly by calling in all the major players. In the unlikely event they find evidence of criminal behavior, they can refer their findings to a prosecutor for further review.

If the politicians want to try to exploit what happened at LaSalle for political gain, let them do so in the public square and the polling place. There should be no room — and no tolerance for — criminal investigations motivated solely by partisan politics.


Chicago Tribune. May 6, 2021.

Editorial: Gov. Pritzker, don’t sign a weak ethics bill

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has an opportunity to rebuild trust with voters who repeatedly have demonstrated their lack of confidence in state government.

The most powerful tool would be his veto pen on the partisan map of state House and Senate districts Democrats are fashioning for themselves — an incumbent protection plan that preserves their jobs, their seats, while violating the pledge of a fair and independent redistricting process that Pritzker and dozens of members of the General Assembly promised, including the new House Speaker, Emanuel “Chris” Welch.

A television reporter this week caught Democrats as they ducked in and out of a secret map-drawing room next to the Capitol. Folks, this is the “transparent” process your elected officials promised.

We have little confidence Pritzker will be so bold to veto the map. He already has caved, backtracked and flip-flopped from what he said as a candidate. On that issue, he has depleted the trust voters placed in him.

But there is a way he could earn some back. He could refuse to sign a weak ethics reform package, which is being negotiated now among key lawmakers. He should put them on notice — this includes Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, and Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, who are leading the ethics efforts — that they better put teeth in their legislation before sending it to his desk.

No more games. Voters are sick and tired of getting played.