CHICAGO — Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a report four years in the making outlining nearly 350 Catholic clergy, accused of child sex abuse, who were not publicly listed by Illinois dioceses.
The report, which spans nearly 700 pages, names 451 Catholic clergy members who allegedly abused 1,997 children across all six dioceses in Illinois. The abuse spans seven decades, according to Raoul.
Of the 451 names, 330 members are dead. Prior to the investigation, 103 names were publicly listed by all six Illinois dioceses.
Of the 348 new names listed in the report, Raoul’s office said Illinois dioceses had found 149 clerics that the church allegedly determined to not fall under their guidelines.
“To the extent that (clergy) were ministering under the archdiocese and had significant contact either in schools or otherwise — we considered it part of our investigation important to disclose each and every cleric that abused children,” Raoul said.
Cardinal Cupich contended after the report came out that the men do not fall under the diocese’s supervision.
“149 still ‘undisclosed’ men are mostly religious order members who are not on our site; they are not undisclosed, and they are under the supervision and report to their respective order. AG himself distinguished between dioceses and religious orders, saying “this was an investigation of the dioceses, not the orders,” recognizing they are different. However their totals include both,” he said.
Raoul stated that while the statue of limitations has expired in most cases, he is releasing the report in the names of “public accountability.”
“Decades of Catholic leadership decisions and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight. And because the statute of limitations has frequently expired, many survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clerics will never see justice in a legal sense. It is my hope that this report will shine light both on those who violated their positions of power and trust to abuse innocent children, and on the men in church leadership who covered up that abuse. These perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law, but by naming them here, the intention is to provide a public accountability and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence,” part of the report reads.
Just after 12 p.m. Tuesday, Cardinal Blase Cupich released a statement
“We have not studied the report in detail but have concerns about data that might be misunderstood or are presented in ways that could be misleading. It is therefore important that we state what we know to be true,” part of it reads.
Cupich believes the investigation into the Catholic church is unfair.
“We think all children deserve to be protected regardless of whether they are cared for by a religious or secular institution; it isn’t fair or wise to focus only on the Catholic Church, which has made the greatest strides in this area,” he said.
Cupich went on to apologize.
We must think first of the survivors of sexual abuse who carry the burden of these crimes through their lives. On behalf of the archdiocese, I apologize to all who have been harmed by the failure to prevent and properly respond to child sexual abuse by clerics. Survivors will forever be in our prayers, and we have devoted ourselves to rooting out this problem and providing healing to victims,” he said. “For more than 30 years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has been at the forefront of developing and improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and to support survivors. Our policies and procedures, first adopted in 1992, have served as a model for organizations and professionals dealing with this difficult issue. I hope the attention drawn to the issue by the Report will encourage those who work with minors to learn from our experience and take steps to protect all children from sexual abuse.
Attorney General Raoul’s office included 50 pages of recommended polices after saying the adopted uniform polices to improve the handling of alleged child sex abuse “do not go far enough.”
The recommendations range from how the dioceses communicate with and support survivors, investigate and make determinations related to alleged abuse, as well as disclosure and transparency protocols, mediation and compensation and the handling of allegations related to religious orders.
In late 2018, then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan began the investigation after accusing the Catholic Church of dramatically underreporting the allegations of clergy sex abuse in the state.
At the time, her investigators said they found at least 500 accusations against priests and clergy.
Raoul stated his investigation continued what Madigan started and follows the recent Maryland attorney general investigation.
According to the Maryland report, more than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability.
This year, Pope Francis updated a 2019 church law aimed at holding senior churchmen accountable for covering up sexual abuse cases, expanding it to cover lay Catholic leaders and reaffirming that vulnerable adults and not just children can be victims of abuse.
But implementation has been uneven and abuse survivors have criticized the Vatican for a continued lack of transparency about the cases, the Associated Press reported.
Full press conference is below.