Chicago cardinal defends compensation plan, calls for information on abusers after reports of abuse in Illinois

ROMAN — The archbishop of Chicago called on the Illinois attorney general on Thursday to provide information on newly discovered clerical sexual abuse cases that were included in a statewide investigative report, saying he would Please add names to the list of trusted accused priests if the allegations are proven. .

In his first interview since the report was published on Tuesday, Cardinal Blase Cupich expressed surprise that 125 new cases involve a number of priests he has never heard of. He expressed disappointment that the attorney general’s office had not referred the new claims to the archdiocese for review, as it did during the five-year investigation.

“We think we have such a relationship with the attorney general and are very disappointed as this is the first time we are hearing these things,” Cupich said.

He spoke to the Associated Press during a regular visit to the Vatican, where he sits on church committees and serves as a close adviser to Pope Francis.

In the report, investigators found that more than 450 Catholic clergy in six Illinois dioceses had sexually abused nearly 2,000 children since 1950, making it clear that the problem was much worse than those of other dioceses. What the hierarchy acknowledged in 2018 at the start of the state’s review. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third largest archdiocese in the United States, reported 68 clerics of abuse in 2018. During the investigation, the archdiocese added more names and as of Tuesday with 150. name on the list of alleged trusted clerics.

Justice Minister Kwame Raoul’s report found 125 more abusers in the archdiocese, many of them religious priests whose cases were not necessarily handled by the archdiocese but their monasteries. It’s also possible that victims went to the attorney general’s investigators in person, completely bypassing the church to report claims.

Cupich said he is open to adding names to his list but needs information on how Raoul’s investigators substantiate the claims. When asked why it wasn’t enough for the church to accept cases that the attorney general’s office had demonstrated, Cupich said the archdiocese just needed to understand the process.

“I can assure the public this: If these cases are proven and we are given information on how (done), we will put them on our website,” he said. while speaking in the courtyard of the Pontifical University of North America. , the American seminary in Rome, where Cupich stayed when he came to town for work at the Vatican.

Cupich acknowledged that the report posed a structural, ongoing problem in the way the Catholic Church handles abuse cases, with religious orders such as the Jesuits, Franciscans, Oblates and Marists often escaping scrutiny. oversight and accountability because they, not diocesan leaders, keep personnel files. Cupich concurs that the Holy See can and should do more to bring religious orders in line.

“In fact, should there be more direction from the central office of the church to speak to religious orders? I would support that,” he said. “I want to make sure we put things out there, because I can tell you this: When we do it and a survivor sees it, it brings healing. That’s why I do it.”

Cupich said he is willing to refuse to let priests who do not comply with work orders in his archdiocese, as recommended by the report, although he says he “would rather use a carrot than a stick.” , because we really need these orders.”

However, according to another recommendation from the report, Cupich was more defensive. Raoul’s investigators called for an independent reconciliation and compensation process for victims similar to those established by the archdioceses of Los Angeles and New York. The report argues that the third-party process gives victims a “secret non-confrontational venue beyond the control of the diocese to be heard and financially compensated for the harm caused.” for them”.

Cupich said he doesn’t want to outsource the compensation process because that would deprive the church of the opportunity to provide pastoral care to victims. He said he will continue with the process he has been doing for years.

“My concern about contracting this with a separate third party is that we make ourselves a business, not a church,” he said.


Teresa Crawford contributed from Chicago.


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