ILLINOIS — The state Attorney General Lisa Madigan has released a report of almost 700 Catholic priests involved in alleged sexual misconduct.
Initially, Catholic officials in Illinois had only publicly identified 185 clergy, with credible allegations hurled against them.
But upon follow up investigations of the attorney general’s office, they found 500 more names.
But the report notes that of the 690 there is no estimate as to how many allegations can be deemed credible since some of them go back decades.
In a statement, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich acknowledged that victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests continue to live with the pain.
He said the archdiocese has been looking into the issue of sexual abuse since at least 1991, when then-cardinal Joseph Bernardin formed a special commission. He also cited the archdiocese’s office for the protection of children and youth as a way it has tried to help survivors.
The report found that in many cases, the dioceses did not conduct proper investigations into allegations — particularly when the priest had died, left the ministry, or was a member of a religious order, and therefore not under the authority of a diocese.
It also found instances in which the dioceses’ used personal information against the person making the allegation to discredit them, which then led to the accusation not being found credible. The report didn’t specify when the dioceses used such tactics.
One of the reasons the preliminary findings were made public now is that the USCCB is expected to meet in January at Mundelein Seminary in suburban Chicago, to discuss the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal.
Just last week, the Jesuits West Province released updated lists of priests implicated or involved in sex abuse cases.
Most of them served in Arizona, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.