CHICAGO - Tuesday a law firm representing 100 victims abused as children by Chicago area Catholic priests released documents exposing the charges and how Church leaders handled priest abuse accusations since the 1960s.
"We realize the information included in these documents is upsetting. It is painful to read. It is not the Church we know or the Church we want to be. The Archdiocese sincerely apologizes for the hurt and suffering of the victims and their families as a result of this abuse," the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese said after abuse vicitms' attorney Jeffrey Anderson released 6000 pages of documents spanning five decades.
The documents were made public at www.abusedinchicago.com. The lawyers claim that at one time, nearly 60 percent of Chicago's Catholic churches had accused priests serving congregations. The documentation is presented on the Jeff Anderson & Associates website in this manner:
And the listing continues, including Cardinal Francis George's deposition on the matter.
"Our hope is through this release of documents and the work we are doing through our Office for the Protection of Children and Youth we can help further promote healing among all those affected by these crimes," the Archiocese said.
Documents made public Tuesday relate to 30 Archdiocesan priests accused of abusing minors at various times during the last fifty years. Currently, the Archdiocese says, no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor serves in ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
"The Archdiocese acknowledges that its leaders made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify. They made those decisions in accordance with the prevailing knowledge at the time. In the past 40 years, society has evolved in dealing with matters related to abuse," the statement said.
"Our understanding of and response to domestic violence, sexual harassment, date rape, and clerical sexual abuse have undergone significant change and so has the Archdiocese of Chicago. While we complied with the reporting laws in place at the time, the Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected."
The Archdiocese of Chicago is in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. Bishops in Dallas in June 2002. They refer all reports of sexual abuse immediately to civil authorities. The Archdiocese’s independent Review Board examines the findings of all investigations and makes recommendations to the archbishop regarding fitness for ministry and safety of children.
The Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, charged with assisting victims and their families and preventing abuse, has trained and processed background checks on more than 160,000 priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers; conducted more than 3,000 training sessions; and trained more than 200,000 children to protect themselves from sexual predators. For more information about the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, please visit www.protectandhealchicago.org.