Cardinal George’s Carrots

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Awhile back, I wrote about John Houston, a bright and brave young man who had been sexually assaulted in junior high by “Father” Norbert Maday. After being discharged from the military, John committed suicide at the age of 33. This post is about what happened to his perp.

First, some background.

Norbert Maday was ordained in 1964 out of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, which is just north of Chicago at the edge of Lake Michigan. The new clergyman’s first two parishes were St. John of God and St. Leo, both in Chicago. In ’69, he was transferred to St. Louis de Montfort in Oak Lawn which shares a southern border with Chicago. Eight years later, he was back in the city at St. Bede the Venerable and, during this assignment, Maday acted as the associate director of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Youth. From 1982-92, the archbishop assigned this Roman-collared predator to Our Lady of the Ridge parish in south suburban Chicago Ridge and, then, to St. Jude the Apostle in nearby South Holland.

B/W photo of newly ordained Norbert Maday in Roman collar
A rapist in the making. Norbert Maday.

Maday was at St. Jude when the Cook County state’s attorney’s office began investigating criminal accusations against him. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the investigation halted when authorities realized the statute of limitations on the reported crimes had already expired.

A break for truth and justice came, however, when Winnebago County (WI) Assistant State’s Attorney Louis DeRose issued a warrant for Maday’s arrest on charges including “crimes of sexual acts done for the sexual gratification of Norbert Maday”. Statutes of limitations vary by state. Also, as in this case, such limitations do not necessarily apply when the offenders crosses states lines with his victims in order to perpetrate crimes against them. 

In 1994, Maday was convicted by a Wisconsin jury on 3 counts of sexual assaulting two teenage boys as well as one count of intimidating a witness. (The priest told one of his victims that he’s kill his brother if he ever told anyone about the assaults.) Mayday was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

After hearing his sentence, the serial sex offender refused to apologize to his victims or even admit fault. “I’ve never done anything that in my conscience I would consider wrong,” he told the court. He also explained how he would be “willing to go before the court in heaven”, as if he’d get a better deal in that venue than the Dairy State. 

During this time, the Archbishop of Chicago was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.


Francis George in cardinal uniform
Francis George, friendly toward sex predators of children while indifferent toward their prey.

Francis George replaced Bernardin as the Archbishop after Bernardin’s death. George was installed as the archbishop in May, 1997. Within 4 months as the head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, George made a special request to the governor of Wisconsin which ended up being granted. George had asked Governor Tommy Thompson to allow the body of Norbert’s mother be transported to the Fox Lake Correctional Facility where he was serving out his sentence for sexual assaulting minors. In a letter dated September 8, 1997, from the Cardinal to the governor, George called the special permission “an exceptional act of charity”.

It gets worse. The following are quotes from communications George had with Maday, whom he claims to have never met.

May 1998, George to Maday: “As one of my priests, you know our relationship is a very special one. I am sympathetic over the loss of your mother and your continued incarceration. I’ve asked [Vicar for Priests] Fr. Coughlin to look into the question of your lawyers actions – or better, lack of action.”

December 1998, Chicago Archdiocese Professional Fitness Review Administrator to Coughlin: “As Fr. Maday requested, we will increase [his monthly stipend] to $300.00 per month, effective December 1, 1998 to help cover additional personal expenses charged to him by this new [Tennessee detention] facility.

May 1999, Chicago Archdiocese Vicar for Priests Daniel Coughlin to the Wisconsin Parole Commission: “We would be pleased to receive Norbert Maday into the Archdiocese of Chicago system.”

January 2000, George to Maday: “The very calling (to mind) of Isaiah’s words on the Year of Jubilee echo my prayer for ‘the release of prisoners’. As you know, Father Dan Coughlin and the lawyers have something under way. I pray these efforts will bear fruit.”

March 2000, George to Maday: “As you know, we are trying in Wisconsin to make some definite efforts to have a sentence reduction in your case. Hopefully, some good souls will see that the six years of incarceration you have already endured are enough to satisfy the state and any sense of justice… It would be a great fulfillment of the millennium spirit to see your captive heart set free.”

September 2000, George to Maday after Maday completed a prison sex-offender program: “Let us pray for an early release… I am looking forward to having you home.”

February 2002, George to Maday: We have tried, as you know, a number of avenues to see if your sentence might be reduced or parole be given early. So far, we have not had any success but we’ll keep trying.”

While George and his employees spent so much time and energy providing outreach and support for Norbert Maday, Maday’s many victims were being ignored. In October, 2002, 8 months after the archbishop assured the rapist he’d keep trying to get him out, John Houston ended his own life, unbearably pained by the despicable actions of Norbert Maday…. and Cardinal George.

Daniel Coughlin posing with American flag
Daniel Coughlin, a good soldier…. in a twisted sort of way.

Cardinal Francis George did not submit a request for Norbert Maday, a convicted serial rapist, to be laicized (removed from the priesthood) until 2006 – fourteen years after a jury found him guilty of multiple sexual assaults against minors and four years after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) ratified their so-called Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Maday was “removed from ministry” in 1993 after his arrest. Many people confuse this phrase with being “removed from the priesthood”. That is intentional on the part of the Church hierarchy that wants the public to believe they care about protecting children from predators. Obviously, Maday was still employed and receiving a stipend from the archdiocese while he was incarcerated. In fact, they gave the convicted sex-offender a raise!

After the 2008 civil settlement between the Chicago Archdiocese and survivors of Maday and other sex-offending priests in its employ, I had an opportunity to meet with George face-to-face with a friend of mine who was one of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit. During this meeting, the two of us pressed the cardinal for an explanation on why he was so lovey-dovey with a known serial sex-offender.

“I was using the carrot-and-stick approach,” he answered.

I suppose the cardinal is hoping the “courts in heaven” buy that excuse. I surely do not. And neither does John Houston’s mother.

When Maday received a well-deserved beating in prison, Diane Houston told the media his wounds weren’t nearly as severe as he deserved. On that same day, the grieving mother called for the immediate resignation of one of Maday’s biggest supporters, Francis George. George, she explained, has the blood of her son on his hands as does Maday. 

Bloody hands and all, Francis George remains the Archbishop of Chicago and continues to reside in the Gold Coast mansion the high-ranking position affords him – tax free! Despite the repeated attempts by him and his underlings to free Maday from incarceration, the state of Wisconsin continues to hold the priest thanks to a law that allows authorities to keep in custody convicted sex-offenders who are deemed likely to re-offend if let loose.

At least civil authorities seem to grasp the concepts of justice and child protection. has made the reading of Francis George’s 2008 deposition by plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson very easy with links and a breakdown of its content. This site also includes “Excerpts from archdiocese’s communication with abusive priest” compiled by Andrew Herrmann for the Chicago Sun-Times, a resource for much of this post.

Also see John K. Houston (1969 – 2002)