30 Priests’ Sex Abuse Files to Go Public

On Tuesday, thousands of pages of files that show how the sexual abuse cases of priests were handled by the Archdiocese of Chicago will be opened to the public.

This will provide the broadest look to date into the details of the child abuse by the priests and how much the church knew and did or did not do regarding the scandal.

The Chicago archdiocese is one of the largest in the U.S. and most influential. It handed in over 6,000 pages last week of documents to the attorney’s of the victims, who said they would show how the archdiocese had concealed the abuse by priests for decades including the transfer of priests from one parish to another where they in turn would molest children again.

The documents involve 30 priests and were made part of the legal settlement with the abuse victims. They are similar to disclosures that were made in other dioceses recently in the U.S. that showed how the Catholic Church had shielded its priests and failed for a great number of years to report to authorities the child abuse carried out by the priests.

Officials in Chicago said the majority of abuse took place prior to 1988 and none following 1996.

People in Chicago said it was the right thing to do for the Church to hand over the documents and acknowledge what had occurred.

Cardinal Francis George, who has been in charge since 1997 of the archdiocese, sent a letter on January 12 to his parishioners. In the letter, he apologizes for the years of abuse and said that by releasing the information it raised transparency to another level.

He stressed that a great majority of the abuse took place decades ago prior to his becoming archbishop. He wrote that all the incidents eventually had been reported to authorities and resulted in settlements with the victims.

The archdiocese has had to pay out millions of dollars for the settlement of sex abuse claims, which includes those against Father Daniel McCormack who pleaded guilty to abusing five children and received a sentence of 5 years. In 2008, the archdiocese settled with 16 victims for $12.6 million.



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