After the archdiocese made the documents public Thursday morning, Pat Navin pored over the 362 pages in the file of Richard Bartz. Navin was 18 when Bartz allegedly abused him in 1976 during a Wisconsin ski trip. At the time, Bartz was associate pastor at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park.
Bartz was removed from public ministry and resigned as a priest in 2002. He could not be reached for comment.
“What is astounding about the file, in its entirety, is the amount of concern for the priest and the lack of concern for the victims,” said Navin, 57. “Not surprising, really, but a sad commentary on the priorities of the church hierarchy. … Reading this file was sickening. I feel physically ill.
Back when I was reporting I covered the trial of a priest, Vincent McCaffrey, who wasn’t convicted of anything until 2002. Some of the records released today showed that church authorities knew he was molesting kids as far back as 1980.
In one letter [pdf link, scroll all the way to the end] one of McCaffrey’s fellow priests accused the archdiocese of lying about McCaffrey to ￼place him in a new parish after he’d abused children:
“If I had been told of his other problem, I’m sure I would have reacted to my ‘gut feelings’ … How many priests have a young teenager come frequently to stay overnight in his room?”
Then, later, the priest alludes to having the issue hushed up with the local authorities:
“The police in Hometown have been very good about keeping the situation quiet.”
At what point does this become a criminal conspiracy?