Dozens of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse live in Illinois without supervision, survivors say

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Clergy accused of sex abuse live in IL without supervision: survivors
Catholic Church sex abuse survivors are calling for more transparency from Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Being sexually abused by someone in a position of trust is a pain that never goes away.

"He was a pastor in my parish. He had dinner at my grandparents' house," said Mike, a survivor.

Decades after that abuse took place, Mike, on Tuesday, joined others in front of the Archdiocese of Chicago to call out what they believe is a continued lack of transparency on the part of Cardinal Blase Cupich when it comes to dealing with child sexual abuse by priests.

SEE ALSO | Joliet Diocese priest sex abuse survivors say list of abusers is not complete

"Cupich splits hairs, and ducks and dodges, and is trying to minimize the extent of the problem," said David Clohessy with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

The accusations were brought on by the release, two weeks ago, of a nearly 700-page report issued by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Among other things, the report claimed there are at least 149 abusive clergy members that have not been named by any of the state's six dioceses; 125 of them belong to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

"If they are substantiated, and they ever ministered in the Archdiocese of Chicago, we will put them on our website. We are preparing an update to our list that will include some of them, because we have confirmed some of them already," said Archdiocese of Chicago General Counsel James Geoly.

READ MORE | Survivors of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Joliet diocese react to Illinois AG's report

According to the Archdiocese of Chicago general counsel, the overwhelming majority of the names attributed to them - around 115 - are actually members of religious orders that are not governed by them.

The archdiocese's general counsel also said while they do name those with credible accusations against them, they can't do so until, and unless, their respective orders carry out their own investigations. They insisted that they can only control those allegations that fall directly within their purview.

"We report every allegation, in real time, immediately to civil authorities. The main issue is child safety," Geoly said.

For those who've been victims of sexual abuse by priests, however, it's not enough, especially since many of those now-former clerics were never prosecuted, and are living their lives in communities that may not be aware of their past.

RELATED | Cardinal Cupich details streamlining process to handle sex abuse allegations in Catholic church

"Church officials should not let child-molesting clerics get booted, and yet still have access to kids and live and work amongst unsuspecting neighbors," Clohessy said.

While advocates said they would like to see the photographs and locations of such former priests disclosed publicly by the archdiocese, their attorney said such a move would simply be irresponsible.