Mom wants cardinal to quit

Mad at George’s help for molester

Diane Houston said another son, John was abused by the Rev. Norbert Maday. John later killed himself.

(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times)


Reading her Sun-Times last week, Diane Houston lingered over a prison photo of the Rev. Norbert Maday, his mug shot showing the convicted sex abuser with a black eye and a swollen lip.

Though she is the mother of one of the dozens of boys believed to have been raped by Maday, the picture of the jailed Chicago priest didn’t bring her any solace.

Her reaction: “He was beaten up but not beaten up enough for me.”

On Thursday, Houston — whose son John committed suicide years after he was abused by Maday — called on Cardinal Francis George to resign.

Houston cited documents showing how George and other Archdiocese of Chicago officials tried to ease Maday’s stay in prison, including working on his behalf to reduce his 20-year sentence.

Details of the Catholic church’s attempts to assist Maday, now in a secured Wisconsin medical facility awaiting a trial that could keep him committed indefinitely as a “sexually violent person,” were released last week as part of a $12.7 million settlement with victims of abuse.

George now says he made a mistake in trying to help Maday. But he acknowledged he wrote the priest a number of times, including in 2000, when he told Maday that the six years Maday had served should be “enough to satisfy the state and any sense of justice.”

The archdiocese arranged for the body of Maday’s mother to be brought to a Fox Lake, Wis., prison for a memorial service and gave him a raise.

At a press conference arranged by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Houston said her son was about 10 in the late 1970s when he was abused by Maday, then at St. Bede the Venerable Church.

After her son began calling Maday “Father Gayday” at school, Maday came to the Houston family’s South Side home and demanded an apology. Diane Houston made her son say he was sorry, she said.

John Houston, an altar boy when he was assaulted, kept the rape to himself for years. But as a Marine serving in the Gulf War in the early 1990s, the memories of the abuse came flooding back, she said.

He began drinking heavily and taking drugs and was discharged. A short-lived marriage disintegrated and, Diane Houston recalled, he once asked her if being abused by a man “makes me gay?”

In 2002, at 33, John Houston committed suicide.

“My son didn’t just take his life. Father Maday and George had a part in it,” said Houston, who called on the archdiocese to release Maday’s church file.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said documents related to the settlement are “subject to a mediation agreement.” That process “continues to move forward,” she said.