Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a May 23 report revealing decades of abuse by Catholic clergy against almost 2,000 children.
The report, unveiled during a May 23 press conference and totaling almost 700 pages, concludes a multi-year investigation launched in 2018 into child sexual abuse by 451 clergy and religious brothers in all six Catholic dioceses in Illinois.
Prior to Raoul’s investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois publicly listed just 103 credibly accused abusers.
According to Raoul’s office, attorneys and investigators “reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents held by the dioceses and received more than 600 confidential contacts from survivors through emails, letters, interviews and phone calls.”
Raoul added that although “these perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law,” their naming in the report would “provide a public accounting and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence.”
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said in a statement that archdiocesan officials “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.”
Among what he said Church officials “know to be true” is that the 451 clergy named in the report includes the priests already on the six diocesan websites. “ALL were reported to civil authorities, none were undisclosed, none were ‘hiding in plain sight’ since at least 2002.”
Similarly, Rockford Bishop David J. Malloy — who “first and foremost (apologized) for the pain endured by victim survivors of childhood sexual abuse” — said Raoul’s report contained “inaccuracies.”
Allegations that “known abusers (are) actively ministering” in the Diocese of Rockford are “to the best of our knowledge … simply not true,” said Bishop Malloy.
“The Attorney General’s report identifies 160 priests it maintains should be on public lists but are not. However, the Attorney General reports that none of those 160 priests is or was in any way affiliated with the Diocese of Rockford,” Bishop Malloy said.
The Diocese of Peoria said in a statement that such protocols “have gone a long way to address the scourge of sexual abuse,” and that “to the diocese’s knowledge, there is not a single priest of the diocese with a substantiated allegation who is currently in ministry or who has not been reported to the authorities.”
“Some may be thinking, ‘I thought this was over.’ No sin of such great magnitude as sexual abuse of minors should ever be forgotten,” Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of Joliet said. “Remembering the harm done forces us to remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure it never happens again.”
Springfield Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki credited Raoul’s office “for bringing about greater transparency” and for “keeping the spotlight on this issue to help us sustain the vigilance” needed to guard against future threats of abuse.
While noting he would “need some time to read and fully absorb” the report, Bishop Michael G. McGovern of Belleville said it was “crucial” to understand that “nothing is more important to us than the welfare of the youth entrusted to our care,” and that the Belleville Diocese “takes all allegations of inappropriate or sexual misconduct seriously.”
“In the name of our community, I offer my profound apology to all who have been harmed by the failure to prevent and properly respond to child sexual abuse by clerics,” said Bishop McGovern.