On Tuesday, documents were released detailing specific cases of sex abuse in the Chicago Archdiocese involving 30 priests.
Should church leaders, including Cardinal Francis George be criminally prosecuted for the way they handled sexual abuse cases? SNAP, a victims' group, is calling on prosecutors to scour the 6,000 pages of recently released documents for any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
"We are here to call on every Chicagoland law enforcement agency within boundaries of Archdiocese of Chicago to try harder to pursue child sex crimes," Kate Bochte, SNAP, said.
While victims and their attorneys says the documents are proof of a decades-long cover-up by Cardinals George, Bernardin and Cody, the archdiocese continues to maintain that church leaders never intended to hurt children. Even though documents show evidence of failing to call police and quietly moving accused priests from parish to parish..
"Domestic battery, child abuse rape were viewed differently. They were not reported immediately. Parents took them more casually, that is no longer the case," Jan Slattery, Chicago Archdiocese, said.
The Archdiocese Director of Protection and Youth Jan Slattery said the way the church viewed those crimes was just reflective of the way society handled years ago. But critics said church leaders have always known that child sexual abuse was a crime. Former priest Patrick Wall says church leaders from cardinals on down made conscious choices to protect the institution from scandal and the keep clerics in the ministry.
"The number of clerics started to drop dramatically in Chicago, they had a personal issue. . . keep people in ministry," Patrick Wall said.
Currently, the archdiocese says it does not have any priests in ministry with a substantiated allegation of abuse. Despite that, victims insist secrecy will remain within the church unless church leaders are criminally prosecuted.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office has yet to review the documents, but say they will look at them to determine any legal action.