Sex abuse in the Catholic Church: Over 1,900 minors abused in Illinois, state says

Sex abuse in the Catholic Church: Over 1,900 minors abused in Illinois, state says

Attorneys general and grand juries in several states have investigated sexual abuse in the church, including an investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore that was released last month. The many investigations were inspired by a 2018 report on six Pennsylvania dioceses, which stunned Catholics across the country.

The Illinois report was initiated by Lisa Madigan, Mr. Raoul’s predecessor as attorney general, who identified early in his investigation a significant discrepancy between the number of clergy who had been credibly charged and the much smaller number disclosed by the church. “The number of allegations on top of what was already public is shocking,” she told The New York Times in 2018.

The effects of the clerical sex abuse crisis have rippled through the Catholic Church in the United States for decades and first surfaced 20 years ago when the Boston Globe documented a sprawling cover-up of abuse in churches.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois estimates that Catholics make up about 27 percent of the state’s population, above the national state average.

In the early 1990s, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago led a pioneering commission on sexual abuse in churches, establishing a mostly lay council to assess allegations of abuse against clergy. The attorney general’s report calls the Archdiocese of Chicago a “leader in the new era of abuse complaint handling,” with a policy of removing credibly accused clergy from the ministry rather than moving them to new positions. But the report also documents how the archdiocese sometimes failed to act on its own recommendations.

Ahead of the release of the attorney general’s report, the state’s six Catholic dioceses released a statement last week about their approach to allegations of child sexual abuse. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, said in the statement that the church in Illinois “has been at the forefront of the fight against child sexual abuse for many years.”

“This report tells us clearly that no one knew more about the abuse, and no one did less than these dioceses themselves,” said Mike McDonnell, spokesperson for SNAP, a victims’ advocacy group. of clerical sexual abuse.

Most of the abuses documented in the report happened decades ago. The report acknowledges that criminal prosecutions and civil suits will be impossible for many victims, due to statutes of limitations and the death of perpetrators. Rather, the aims of the survey were to offer an account of past abuses and to “give voice to survivors”.

Some states, including California and New York, have adopted a “look-back window” allowing victims of child sexual abuse to pursue civil lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by statutes of limitations, but Illinois does not. not part.

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