The Archdiocese of Chicago on Tuesday released the following statement in response to the release of previously secret documents detailing sexual abuse by priests.
The documents made public by Jeffrey Anderson relate to 30 Archdiocesan priests accused of abusing minors at various times during the last half century. All of the documents relate to cases that date back many years, in some cases, decades. Ninety-five percent of these cases occurred prior to 1988. Today 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. 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.
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. 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 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. We 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 Archdiocese of Chicago is concerned first and foremost with the healing of abuse victims and has maintained a victim assistance ministry for more than 25 years. In addition, 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.
The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee, to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at www.archchicago.org/departments/protection/protection.shtm.