PEORIA -- Another victim of child abuse by a priest spoke out on May 7, calling for Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky to change his ways or resign.
A man we will call Mike and his wife Trish, both teachers and the parents of three children, spoke at a news conference. Mike said he was abused as a child at a camp run by the Peoria diocese. (Mike's name and the name of his wife have been changed to protect their privacy.)
Th couple said Jenky is not following national protocols set up by the Catholic church to help abuse victims, including paying for counseling.
When the Peoria diocese suddenly stops the payments, despite promises to the contrary, the victims are abused again, they said.
That action also means that the diocese may not be living up to other pledges regarding abusive priests, they said. "Children are not safe if you're not following through in all areas," Trish said.
Mike said that the Peoria diocese is different from other dioceses that are providing support and counseling for victims. Unlike others, Peoria's sexual abuse committee is secret, and that committee refused to allow him to speak before it, even behind a screen to keep the identities confidential, he said.
He has sent letters to Jenky, who has never responded to him or spoken to him, he said.
Meanwhile he has had several conversations with Cardinal Francis George in Chicago as well as a representative of the pope, and they were responsive and compassionate, he said. "Other bishops talk to survivors."
Mike presented a long list of complaints against the Peoria diocese and Jenky, including its treatment of Dr. John Carroll and his Haitian Hearts program. Can all of these people be wrong? he asked.
He said perhaps 15 abuse victims have lost financial support from the diocese for their counseling. He said that's a relatively inexpensive way to help people heal, and an alternative to expensive lawsuits.
One of those victims, from Delavan, also attended the news conference and said payments stopped in February, and he now owes over $1,400 for therapy.
Professionals should determine when abuse victims can stop counseling, and not church officials, Mike said. They only want people to "pay, pray and obey," he said.
Instead they should be providing love and support in Peoria, so that victims can heal, he said.
Mike, a former seminary student, said he has become so disillusioned with the Catholic Church that he left it and is now a Lutheran.
-- Elaine Hopkins