Chicago Archdiocese under fire by SNAP after latest allegation - Dallas News |

Chicago Archdiocese under fire by SNAP after latest allegation

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Two members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests--or SNAP-- stood outside the Chicago Archdiocese headquarters to protest its handling of the latest allegation against a Catholic priest.

On Sunday the Archdiocese announced it had received an allegation that Father Michael W. O'Connell, who heads St. Alphonsus Church on the North side, had sexually abused a boy more than a decade ago while working at Our Lady of the Woods parish in Orland Park.

The Archdiocese announced after that Father O'Connell had agreed to step aside while the church investigates the claim.

SNAP's director, Barbara Blaine, said she has talked to the alleged victim, now a man in his early 20's, and feels that just having Father O'Connell step down is not enough.

"He's claiming that the priest abused him on more than one occasion and that it involved that he was a student in the equivalent of Sunday school, and that the priest called him out of class and that's where the abuse occurred," Blaine said.

In 2012 Father O'Connell moved to the massive St. Alphonsus parish in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood where on Sunday parishioners were read a statement saying the priest had stepped away from day to day responsibilities at the church.

The Archdiocese said Father O'Connell is now living away from the parish but is still involved in active ministry until the investigation is completed.

SNAP feels that is not enough.

"I think that the message should be that he should be suspended. When credible allegations come to the archdiocese they should suspend the priest. They shouldn't be giving him an option of stepping down," said Blaine.

Blaine also said they also want to see the accused priest go into a treatment facility immediately for assessment.

In a statement the archdiocese said it has reported the allegation to police and the Cook County state's attorney and while the action against the priest should not be viewed as a judgment of guilt, the church takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously.

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