Sneed exclusive . . .

It’s a moral catastrophe.

“I wasn’t shocked. Not at all,” said Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, a devout Catholic and mother of five responding to a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing the sexual abuse of 1,000 young people at the hands of hundreds of Catholic priests.

“I think every state should convene a grand jury into this culture of secrecy that protected offenders at all costs,” said Burke, who was once interim chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops study on nationwide clerical sexual abuse in 2002.

“It was happening in Chicago, but we had to rely on files the bishops were willing to give us — and we knew there had to be more, but we had no subpoena powers,” said Burke. “We had no government authority!”

“We did a lot of research, but a lot was kept from us and we knew it,” she said.

“And shockingly, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops charter our National Review Board was appointed under did NOT include investigating the BISHOPS! Or even penalizing the bishops or Cardinals for transferring these priests,” she said.

“But we did report bishops were transferring priests from parish to parish and diocese to diocese knowing they had a history of abuse.

“One member of our board, Dr. Michael Bland, a former priest and a psychologist, had also been a victim of abuse by a priest.

“It was the nature of the culture to protect these priests back then, and I was stunned when I found out Cardinal Francis George had a priest from another diocese living at the Cardinal’s Mansion who had pled guilty to abusing a minor in another state before he became a priest.

“I was told the man had been a teacher at a Catholic boys school. I even talked to Cardinal George about it!”

“George had hired him to be a language translator in the diocese!”

“It took two years to pull our report together, and we hired Chicago’s former FBI chief Kathleen McChesney, who was the third-highest ranking FBI agent in the U.S. at the time, to open an office of child and youth protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Finally … at last … government authorities, like those in Pennsylvania, are getting involved in investigation of this criminal activity.

“But because trust has been so eroded due to the way the church has handled what is definitely a moral catastrophe, the just announced U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plan to restore trust will fail if it’s not independent and if they only choose the experts, laity and the Vatican,” she said.

“They will be sadly mistaken not to involve the expertise, authority and independence of a grand jury to open secret files in order to restore the trust and healing the church so desperately needs.”


Aretha, Aretha . . .


Ah, Aretha. You Motown girl; Detroit projects babe; id to the kid in me.

How I’d belt out that song every time I drove to Wayne State University in 1965 version of Detroit while heading down Woodward Avenue and Twelve Mile Road in my ancient $150 Simca — whose steering wheel was held in place with string!

The death of singer Aretha Franklin Thursday was no surprise; she’d been sick with her “secret” cancer for years.

But in this world still ruled by men, Aretha’s mantra gave me the pause I needed to move forward — especially if I remembered to count the dots in the song.

Amazing lady.

A little poetic license . . .

Omarosa, Omarosa.

Do you supposa you could give President Donald Trump another dosa of his own medicine?

A McCarthy Memo . . .


Still awaiting word on whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to accept former top cop Garry McCarthy’s challenge this past weekend to a one-on-one debate on crime and violence.

McCarthy, a mayoral opponent, tells Sneed he “released a poll on my campaign Facebook and Twitter pages” asking if Emanuel should accept the challenge.

“Between the two social media platforms, there were 2,000 ‘Yes’ votes within 24 hours,” he said.

Sneed’s bet?

It’s a no-go.

Bruce & Brett & Edgar . . . 

Country singer Brett “Illinois” Eldredge, who is headlining the State Fair Friday and hails from Paris, is being given a private tour of the Governor’s Mansion Friday night by Gov. Bruce Rauner — along with Brett’s canine companion, Edgar, who is named after Edgar County.

• Bow wow: Bruce’s dog, Stella, is not along for the tour but it should be noted Edgar the canine has 206,000 followers on Instagram.

Sneedlings . . .

Sport shorts: I spy Cleveland Indians Melky Cabrera and Carlos Carrasco dining at RPM Italian recently. . . . Ditto for White Sox players Ryan Lamarre  and Daniel Palka. . . . Today’s birthdays: Giuliana Rancic, 44; Robert De Niro, 75; and Sean Penn, 58.