A month ago I wrote
to all the parishes of the Archdiocese to tell you of the audit
which was soon to be published about the compliance of each diocese
in this country with the provisions of the national Charter for
the Protection of Children and Young People in the Church. When
the report, done by outside auditors as is the case with financial
audits, was published, our Archdiocese was found to be in full compliance
with the procedures set up by the Charter. We were, as well, commended
for our victims’ assistance outreach and several other aspects
of our efforts here to address the sins of the past and to assure
a future free of this sin and crime of sexual abuse. The promise
that no priest with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor
against him would remain in public ministry in the Church has been
kept. The credibility of some of the allegations is, of course,
still being reviewed in a few cases.
This note is to tell you of a second report, very different from
the auditing of procedures, which will be published on February
27. As with the audit, I will not see this report from the John
Jay College of New York until it is published. Unlike the audit,
it will report numbers. It is a social science research study, based
upon confidential data gathered from every diocese and religious
order in the country. Like the audit, it was commissioned because
the bishops promised to try to get to a deeper understanding of
how this scandal occurred so that it may never be repeated.
Each diocese reported numbers of allegations, even anonymous accusations,
numbers of priests accused, numbers of priests withdrawn, amounts
spent for counseling priests and accusers, legal costs and settlements
for the past fifty years. No other group has assembled comparable
numbers, so no point of comparison to other groups will be possible.
Nevertheless, with such an immense amount of raw data, the National
Review Board will give a first interpretation and then social scientists
will use this database for other studies in the months and years
to come. The study is not a report on individual cases but a set
of data which will show trends over the years, ages of victims and
abusers throughout the country, the costs nationwide of this misconduct
and the means taken, through insurance especially, to meet these
costs. All this should lead to a more scientific understanding of
causes and suggest changes that might be made for the future.
The basic data given by the Archdiocese to the John Jay researchers
have been made public here in two reports. The first in 1992 covered
forty years; the second, published in 2003, was an update covering
ten years. Our data show that about two percent of the thousands
of priests ministering to Catholics over the past fifty years have
had a credible allegation of sexual abuse of minors against them.
Many of these priests are now dead, a few are in prison, and all
are out of ministry. Names have been published as priests were withdrawn,
and every case has been reported to civil authorities responsible
for the protection of minors in our society.
I ask you to receive this report as something to be brought to
prayer. The Church is called to be holy; for our sanctification,
Christ died. The Church has saints, but each saint is a reformed
sinner. The sins of each harm us all. Each day I pray for those
who have been sexually abused by priests of the Archdiocese. No
matter when or how that abuse occurred, terrible harm, spiritual
and psychological and sometimes physical, was inflicted. I pray
also for the priests who have to face the Lord and his people as
well as themselves. Let us keep each other in prayer.
God bless you and your families.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago