CHICAGO – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday issued a blistering report about clergy sexual abuse, saying that the Catholic dioceses in Illinois to receive allegations of sexual abuse of children by 500 more clergy than had previously been publicly identified.
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. In all, Madigan’s office said that while dioceses have added 45 names on the lists of those who have been credibly accused in the past four months, the fact that the total is now only 185 raises serious 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.”
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.”
The leaders of the church in dioceses in Illinois regret expressed about the misuse, but pointed to the steps they have taken to address what has become an international crisis. In a statement, the Diocese of Joliet said 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.
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.”
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.
Church officials did express some frustration about the fact that the report does not refer to specific examples of problems, saying that they have not told is how many of the allegations against 500 clergy of his diocese.
Madigan’s office acknowledged that the report does not have some important details, including when the allegations were made and that dioceses they are made. A spokeswoman said that the allegations date back decades and are priests, who are now deceased.