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Statement of the Archdiocese of Chicago on Lawsuit Filed Today

October 18, 2018

We understand a lawsuit has been filed against the six dioceses in Illinois and the Catholic Conference of Illinois by attorneys Marc Pearlman and Jeff Anderson on behalf of sexual abuse victim-survivors from some Illinois dioceses. We have not had time to review the lawsuit.

In 2006, the Archdiocese of Chicago published on its website the names of diocesan priests against whom there were substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse. The list can be found at protect.archchicago.org.

In January 2014, and again in November 2014, the Archdiocese of Chicago released documents from the files of the priests with substantiated allegations of abuse against them listed on its website. Only the names of victims, material that would identify them or material protected by law was redacted in the more than 20,000 pages released. This information contains the details about the abuse the lawsuit seeks. These documents can be found on our website at docinfo.archchicago.org.

History

In 1991, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin convened a lay commission to review the Archdiocese of Chicago’s procedures for handling accusations of sexual abuse.

In 1992, the Archdiocese of Chicago put in place policies and procedures to address allegations and issues related to sexual abuse of minors. It created one of the first offices of Victim Assistance Ministry to provide direct outreach and support to victim-survivors and their families and created an independent office (now known as the Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review) to receive allegations of abuse of minors by clergy.

In 1993, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Independent Review Board was convened to review allegations of abuse and to make direct recommendations on the accused clergy’s fitness for ministry to the archbishop.

In 2002, the Archdiocese of Chicago adopted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including its “one-strike” rule that removed priests with even one substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse permanently from ministry. Every allegation, regardless of when the abuse is alleged to have occurred, is referred to the civil authorities.

Building on a decade of experience in handling abuse cases, in 2003, the Archdiocese of Chicago created the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth (OPCY) to bring together the various ministries within the archdiocese that had been operating to ensure the archdiocese is a safe place for children. Its offices work together to stay current on preventing and responding to child sexual abuse.

Office for Assistance Ministry (OAM) personnel reach out and extend supportive services to victim-survivors from the moment they come forward with an allegation of clergy sexual abuse. This includes traveling throughout the country to meet with and listen to victim-survivors. OAM personnel also provide the opportunity for victim-survivors to receive independent professional counseling from fully accredited therapists. Additionally, OAM personnel have worked in collaboration with victims-survivors to respond to their need for healing. This has led to the development of the Healing Garden, annual Mass for Hope and Healing and Pinwheel Service for Child Abuse Prevention, victim-survivor led peace circles, and the Healing Voices magazine. To date more than 400 victim-survivors and family members have been served by OAM personnel.

Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review (CAIR) is headed by a lay professional who provides a compassionate and thorough process for receiving and investigating reports of child abuse against archdiocesan personnel. Archdiocese personnel notify public authorities of all reports of possible abuse of any kind and from any date, regardless of legal requirements. 

  • The Director of CAIR serves as staff for the Independent Review Board, which is an advisory board for the Cardinal. The Board’s main charges are ensuring the safety of children and determining a cleric’s fitness for ministry. More than 230 Board meetings have been held.

Safe Environment Office personnel provide resources to educate archdiocesan clergy, employees and volunteers on how to prevent child sexual abuse, how to recognize sex offender behavior and how to create safe environments for children and youth.

Since 2003, more than 3,700 training sessions in the archdiocese have been held, training more than 263,000 adults. 

  • Archdiocesan parishes and schools are required to provide valuable training to children and youth on how to recognize, resist, respond and report grooming or abuse.
  • Safe Environment Office personnel also screen, through name-based background checks, all clergy, employees and volunteers. Office personnel also receive and review fingerprint results for school personnel. 
  • All employees and volunteers who work with children and youth in the archdiocese must submit a CANTS (Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking Systems) Form.
  • All employees and volunteers in the archdiocese must abide by the archdiocese’s Code of Conduct.
  • The archdiocese requires Mandated Reporter Training for all clergy, school personnel, religious education personnel, youth ministers and coaches as part of the archdiocese’s Safe Environment Compliance.

Priest Monitoring Program is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s stringent monitoring program of clergy with substantiated cases of sexual abuse against them. These men have been withdrawn from ministry and are prohibited from presenting themselves as priests. They are required to comply with numerous restrictions to provide safety for the community, the program participants, and the Church.

In 2006, the Archdiocese of Chicago published on its website the names of all diocesan priests against whom there were substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse. The list has been updated as necessary. The list can be found at protect.archchicago.org.

In January 2014, and again in November 2014, the Archdiocese of Chicago, released documents from the files of the priests whose names appeared on our website list of men with substantiate allegations against them. Only the names of victims, material that would identify them or material protected by law was redacted in the more than 20,000 pages released. These documents can be found on our website at docinfo.archchicago.org.

In September 2018, Cardinal Cupich called for an independent review of the archdiocese’s policies and procedures and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation process to heal victim-survivors, their families and the community.

For the Spanish version of the statement, please click here.

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