Survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and clerics are speaking out about the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s explosive multi-year investigation that’s put Chicago’s archbishop on the defensive.
That comprehensive investigation details abuse by Catholic clergy and names 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who reportedly abused at least 1,997 children. The Catholic dioceses of Illinois had publicly listed only 103 substantiated child sex abusers.
Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, spoke out Tuesday saying they want all the names released so that parents can protect their children.
“Cardinal Cupich is pointing to the policies the Chicago Archdiocese has had for decades,” said Marc Pearlman, an attorney for child sex abuse survivors. “Those are all words. But when you look at their actions, their actions speak truth. And the truth is they have done very little when it comes to child safety, child protection. Until these dioceses do what the need to do in terms of disclosure and supervision, children are not safe.”
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich asserts that Raoul’s office didn’t work with the archdiocese and that many of the names in the Illinois attorney general’s report were religious brothers from various orders which Cupich doesn’t have direct oversight over.
“The list fails to explain the basis by which allegations against these additional individuals were substantiated or deemed credible and by whom,” said the cardinal via an online video statement. “We have asked repeatedly that we be informed of any cases discovered by or disclosed to the attorney general’s office. Yet, we saw new unexplained names in this report.”
Raoul disputes the cardinal’s statement.
“There’s no truth to that,” Raoul said in an appearance on “Chicago Tonight” Tuesday. “We weren’t calling balls and strikes. We put forth evidence based on the documents we reviewed and the interaction with survivors. We left it to the respective dioceses to substantiate, and the orders to substantiate (the abuse) or not.”
The activist survivors from SNAP said that not disclosing all the names is a “public safety issue.”
“The explanation has been that they are religious order priests and not diocesan priests,” said one SNAP member at Tuesday’s press conference who did not identify herself by name. “Most practicing Catholics don’t understand the distinction of that, nor should they care. These priests were all working within one of the dioceses in Illinois with the permission of the bishop to work there.”
Raoul’s office said it interviewed survivors, reviewed more than 100,000 documents held by the Catholic dioceses and received more than 600 confidential contacts from survivors through emails, letters, interviews and phone calls.