Congressional chaplain accused of covering up local abuse

November 20, 2008 10:25:37 AM PST
A Chicago priest who is now a chaplain in Congress played a role in managing other priests accused of sexual abuse, according to "Roll Call," Capitol Hill newspaper.This news is a surprise to those who support the victims of clergy abuse.

Reverend Daniel Coughlin has been the chaplain of the House of Representatives since 2000. Frances Cardinal George recommended him for that position. Before that, he was in Chicago where he ministered to a group of troubled priests, according to "Roll Call."

According to the Chicago archdiocese, Father Daniel Coughlin was the vicar for priests beginning in 1995, which means he ministered to priests with problems, including alcoholism and those accused of abuse. One of the priests he ministered to was Norbert Maday, a Chicago priest who had been convicted of molesting children.

Father Coughlin, in fact, sent a letter to the Wisconsin corrections department asking for his release from prison. According to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, this is the latest of a number of examples where priests who have allegedly covered up abuse have been promoted by the church. They are questioning whether he ever informed authorities once he became aware of abuse by priests under his counsel.

"It goes back to Cardinal George's recklessness, lack of leadership and his lack of judgment that he would somehow now go and promote Father Coughlin, who may have been involved in covering up abuse by predators," said Barbara Blaine, SNAP.

On Wednesday, the Chicago archdiocese did not make an official statement. But an official with the archdiocese said, ''From 1990 to 1995, Coughlin was director of Stritch Retreat Center in Mundelein. Koening Hall is in a wing of Stritch Retreat Center but is not part of Stritch Retreat. Father Coughlin was not responsible for the priests in Koening Hall."

Koening Hall is the location where accused priests were relocated and now live. But again, the archdiocese says Coughlin was not responsible for accused priests.'

Statement from Archdiocese

"We have no record and are not aware of any situation where Father Coughlin withheld any information about sexual misconduct of priests. It is unconscionable that an accusation would be made against someone without any documentation offered at all."

COLLEEN DOLAN, SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE CHICAGO ARCHDIOCESE.


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