The Catholic Church in Illinois withheld the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexual abuse of minors, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday in a scathing report that accused the church of failing victims by neglecting to investigate their allegations.
The preliminary report by Attorney General Lisa Madigan concludes that the Catholic dioceses in Illinois are incapable of investigating themselves and “will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.”
The report said that 690 priests were accused of abuse, and only 185 names were made public by the dioceses as having been found credibly accused of abuse.
“The number of allegations above what was already public is shocking,” said Ms. Madigan in an interview.
Three-fourths of the allegations against clergy were either not investigated, or were investigated but not substantiated by the dioceses, the report found, based on files that the dioceses turned over to the attorney general’s office.
A pattern emerged from the files in which dioceses often failed to find a claim credible if there was only one victim, the report said. They also failed to investigate at all if the accused priest was deceased or reassigned, or belonged to a religious order (such as the Franciscans, Marists or Jesuits). The dioceses often discredited survivors’ claims by “focusing on the survivors’ personal lives,” the report said.
Once the attorney general’s office began investigating, the report said, the Illinois dioceses disclosed the names of 45 more clergy who were deemed by the church to be credibly accused of abusing minors — most of them cases the dioceses knew about for years.
“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said in a statement. “It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history.”
Full story at The New York Times.