The names of 500 Roman Catholic Priests accused of sexual abuse in Illinois were left off lists by church officials who were supposedly helping what was called “an investigation.” 500 in that one state! This according to the state’s attorney general.
By any reasonable analysis, and however one may feel about the Catholic Church in general, this is outrageous—and sad.
Some 16 state attorneys generals have begun investigations into sexual abuse by priests and the efforts of Catholic leaders to cover up. In case you missed the story, here is the latest.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released a damning preliminary report Wednesday on her office’s findings that the Catholic dioceses in the state had withheld the names of over 500 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. The investigation is ongoing, though the report says “the Office has reviewed enough information to conclude that the Illinois Dioceses will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.”
The report found that Illinois dioceses received reports of abuse by approximately 690 clergy, but only reported 185 as having been “credibly” accused, meaning that approximately 75 percent of all reports they received were not investigated. The dioceses often did not investigate if the accused priest was deceased or retired, or if only one victim had come forward, and often “sought to discredit a survivor’s allegations based upon the survivor’s personal life.”
Although the report says that “Clergy sexual abuse of minors in Illinois is significantly more extensive than the Illinois Dioceses previously reported,” it does not estimate how many of the allegations against the 690 clergy should have been deemed credible. Some of the allegations go back decades.
The report says Illinois dioceses “have lost sight of both a key tenet” of policies laid out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as “the most obvious human need as a result of these abhorrent acts of abuse: the healing and reconciliation of survivors.”
“Long after legal remedies have expired, the Catholic Church has the ability and moral responsibility to survivors to offer support and services, and to take swift action to remove abusive clergy,” the report states.
As for the response from the church, ABC writes:
Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, released a statement expressing his “profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse.”
“There can be no doubt about the constant need to strengthen our culture of healing, protection, and accountability. While the vast majority of abuses took place decades ago, many victim-survivors continue to live with this unimaginable pain,” Cupich said in his statement.
The archdiocese noted in the statement that they “stand ready to cooperate with all institutions and agencies that care for children.”