CHICAGO – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday issued a blistering report about clergy sexual abuse, saying that the Catholic dioceses in Illinois has not released the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexual abuse of children.
The first report found that the church is the six archdioceses have done a woefully inadequate job of investigating the allegations and, in some cases, do not examine whether the amount of the state child welfare agency. Madigan’s office said that while dioceses have provided, 45 more names of those credibly accused, the total number of names published is only 185, and raises questions about the church’s response to the crisis.
“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate the allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in her moral duty to provide the survivors, the parishioners and the public a full and accurate accounting of all the sexually inappropriate behavior in which the priests in Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement. “The failure to investigate also means that the Catholic Church has never made an attempt to determine whether the conduct of the accused priests was ignored or covered up by superiors.”
The report does not contain any important details, such as when the allegations were made. It is also not accusing the diocese of withholding the names of “credibly” accused priests, only that the list of names of accused clergy is much longer than has been made public.
A Madigan spokeswoman said the allegations date back decades and are a number of priests who are now deceased.
The Illinois notes are a new blow to the credibility of the church, which has struggled to the scandal amid mounting allegations of negligence. In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report claimed that hundreds of priests abused at least 1,000 children older than seven decades in that state. The report prompted Pope Francis to call AMERICAN bishops for a retreat in a suburb of Chicago seminar next month to debate how to respond.
Larry Antonsen, a Chicago leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says Madigan, is the right thing to do and needs to continue. He said Illinois should convene a grand jury, with subpoena power, such as in Pennsylvania.
“There is more that needs to be done. The Catholic Church does not do a good job of the police itself, and you can’t expect them to do that,” Antonsen said. “It is hard to know what to believe, because much of what they do is in secret and not in the open air, but this is a step in the right direction.”
A prominent attorney who represented survivors of abuse called for the additional names of priests be made public.
“The Illinois Bishops must be the release of these names immediately so that the survivors can heal and there is no other children are harmed,” said Minneapolis-based Jeff Anderson.
Madigan’s office said that the problems go beyond a lack of effort. In some cases, the report found, were the efforts to work against the accusers.
“When the Illinois Dioceses investigated an allegation, they are often reasons not to consider an accusation of ‘credible’ or ‘justified,'” according to the report. Not only Madigan’s office a “pattern” of dioceses not to substantiate the allegations that are coming from one person, “The dioceses also often reasons to discredit survivors’ stories of abuse by focusing on the survivors ‘ personal lives.”
Illinois leaders of the church, expressed regret about the abuse, but pointed to the steps they have taken to address what has become an international crisis.
Chicago archbishop, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, in a statement said that, although he regretted “our mistakes to the address of the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” the archdiocese has been a leader in dealing with the issue, including a policy since 2002, of reporting “any and all allegations of sexual abuse to the civil authorities.”
The Springfield diocese said that the revised paper files of clergy from its 1923 founding, and provided Madigan’s office with the documentation of every case of abuse, regardless of whether it’s credible considered, according to a statement.
The Diocese of Joliet said in a statement that the measures taken, such as the creation in 1993 of a commission that is composed of people of justice and police, social service agencies, and others to investigate allegations of sexual abuse.
Madigan said her office’s findings make it clear that the notifying authorities, it is of interest to point out cases in which the dioceses use personal information about people to discredit them, to help conclude allegations were not credible. “The first phase of this research have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church does not police itself,” she said.
AP writer John O’connor reported from Springfield, Illinois.