From an April 6 letter, written by Cardinal Blase Cupich, posted at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website:
Dear Parishioners of San José Luis Sánchez del Río,
Last August, I informed you of the accusation against your pastor, Fr. Gary Graf, and that, in keeping with our procedures, he was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months, even letting you know that you should have confidence in the procedures the archdiocese has in place as part of our safe environment efforts.
Following the determination by state officials, who are charged with the protection of minors, that the allegation of child abuse was unfounded and a recent court decision that found him not guilty of other related charges, the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago studied the matter in accordance with our usual procedures and found that there was insufficient reason to suspect that Fr. Graf had committed sexual abuse of a minor. Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that I am reinstating Fr. Graf as your pastor effective immediately[.] …
I reminded Fr. Graf that our policies also call us to do everything possible to restore the good name of priests when the process has determined the allegations to be unfounded. This, too, is a matter of justice. Therefore, both out of regard for Fr. Graf and all our priests, I am resolved to see that Fr. Graf’s good name is restored. As a result, I will share this letter with all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, asking them to provide it to their parishioners. This letter will also be sent to the media and posted on our archdiocesan website.
A matter of justice, indeed.
It’s too bad Cupich wasn’t nearly as just with Father Paul Kalchik, who was never accused of the abuse of a minor. Kalchik’s “crime”? In September 2018, he allowed the burning of an old rainbow banner at his parish, Resurrection, which had a history of homosexual activism. In fact, a previous pastor of Resurrection, the actively gay Father Daniel Montalbano, “was found dead in his rectory bedroom hooked up to a ‘sex machine’ in 1997,” according to a Sept. 28, 2018 story at LifeSiteNews.
The burning of the rainbow banner led to an outcry from local left-wing activists, including an openly gay attorney who’s now Chicago’s mayor-elect, Lori Lightfoot. Kalchik — himself a victim of sexual abuse by a priest — was subsequently forced out of his parish by Cupich and, to my knowledge, remains in exile.
And it’s too bad Cupich wasn’t nearly as just with Father C. Frank Phillips, pastor of St. John Cantius Church, which offers the traditional Latin Mass. Phillips also was never accused of the abuse of a minor. In March 2018, he was removed for alleged “improper conduct with adult men.” A review board subsequently found that Phillips had not violated any criminal, civil, or canon law. Despite this finding, Cupich refused to reinstate Phillips as pastor, and the archdiocese never gave a clear reason as to why. Phillips, a member of the Congregation of the Resurrection, now resides in another state.
So why is Cupich doing everything possible to restore Graf’s good name — and, yes, he should do so for a priest falsely accused — but not for Kalchik and Phillips?
Call me cynical, but there’s this bit of information from an April 7 story in the Chicago Sun-Times that may offer a big clue:
Graf made news in February 2018 when he announced a hunger strike in support of undocumented immigrants [sic] and of ‘dreamers.’
Perhaps if Kalchik and Phillips had been known for engaging in politically correct activism, they’d still be priests in good standing in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.