The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago turned over nearly 6,000 pages of documents detailing clergy sexual abuse to victims' attorneys Wednesday, the same day church officials publicly reiterated concern for those who suffered and regret for their own mistakes.
“I want to offer apologies to all victims affected by these sins and crimes,” Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane said during a news conference on the documents, echoing sentiments voiced by Cardinal Francis George in a letter read at parishes Sunday.
Attorneys representing the dozens who have substantiated claims of sexual abuse against archdiocesan priests plan to release the documents — including complaints and personnel files on 30 priests (see names below) — on Tuesday.
John O'Malley, an attorney for the archdiocese, said Wednesday at the news conference that 95 percent of the incidents detailed in the documents occurred before 1988 and that none occurred after 1996. Most of the victims came forward with their allegations after 2000. The files of former priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack are not included in the records because a judge has sealed them for upcoming trials, O'Malley said.
He added that 14 of the 30 priests in the documents have died, all but two are no longer priests, none is in active ministry and all of the allegations have been reported to civil authorities.
The disclosure will provide the broadest and most detailed accounts of the pain endured by the victims, who spent nine years pushing the church to provide the public that same broad perspective. The documents account for 30 out of more than 65 priests with substantiated allegations against them. Nationally renowned victims attorney Jeff Anderson, whose staff will cull, collate and post the documents online, represented the accusers in cases against the 30 priests.
“The information is painful,” O'Malley said. “It's difficult to read even without the benefit of hindsight. We believe, however, that this step is an important step in the process of transparency.”
Kane said the documents will reveal that the archdiocese returned some accused clergy to pulpits after medical evaluations determined they were fit for ministry.
“We found out that isn’t true,” Kane said. “That was a mistake. We made a terrible mistake.”
Kane said the archdiocese has paid more than $100 million to victims in the past 25 years, an expense covered by land sales and a recent bond, he said. But lawyers say the long-sought transparency trumps monetary compensation for many of the victims.
“They're deserving of credit for the courage in demanding it and pressing it,” Anderson said.
Kane said meeting with victims has made much of the difference in how the archdiocese now responds to allegations.
“We have to be so sensitive to the victims,” he said. “They've endured some great pain, and so it's important for us to be sensitive and to try to help them in ways that will bring healing so they can live a productive good life and they don't have this burden that they're carrying.”
Priests named in documents
The released documents concern the following priests, all of whom are out of ministry.
John William Curran*
Daniel Mark Holihan
Source: Chicago Archdiocese
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