Chicago Cardinal Cupich urges Illinois AG to release more information after abuse report
The Archbishop of Chicago on May 25 urged the Illinois attorney general to provide information on newly discovered cases of clergy sex abuse that were included in a statewide investigative report. , saying he would gladly add the names to his list of credibly accused priests if the allegations were substantiated.
In his first interview since the report was released May 23, Cardinal Blase Cupich said he was surprised that the 125 new cases involved priests he had never heard of. He expressed dismay that the attorney general’s office did not forward the new claims to the archdiocese for review, as it had during the five-year investigation.
“We thought we had that kind of relationship with the attorney general, so we’re disappointed to hear this for the first time,” Cupich said.
He spoke to The Associated Press during one of his periodic visits to the Vatican, where he sits on church committees and is a close adviser to Pope Francis.
In the report, investigators found that more than 450 Catholic clergy in the six dioceses of Illinois had sexually abused nearly 2,000 children since 1950, making it clear the problem was far worse than the hierarchy believed. had recognized in 2018 at the start of the state examination. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third-largest in the United States, had reported 68 abusive clergy in 2018. During the investigation, it added more names and went to May 23 with 150 names on its list. of credibly accused clergy.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s report found 125 additional abusers in the archdiocese, many of whom were priests of religious orders whose cases would not necessarily have been handled by the archdiocese but by their religious orders. It was also likely that the victims went directly to the attorney general’s investigators, bypassing the church entirely to report the claims.
Cupich said he would gladly add the names to his list, but needed information on how Raoul’s investigators substantiated the allegations. When asked why it wasn’t enough for the church to accept cases that the attorney general’s office had justified, Cupich said the archdiocese just needed to understand the process.
“I can assure the public this: if these cases are substantiated and we receive information on how it was (done), we will put them on our website,” he said, speaking in the courtyard of the Pontifical North American College. , the American Seminary in Rome where Cupich stays when he is in town on Vatican business.
Cupich acknowledged that the report laid bare an ongoing structural problem in how the Catholic Church handles abuse cases, with religious orders such as Jesuits, Franciscans, Oblates and Marists often escaping scrutiny. and accountability because they, not diocesan leaders, keep staff records. Cupich agreed that the Holy See could and should do more to bring religious orders into line.
“Should there, in fact, be more guidelines from the central office of the church to talk to religious orders? I would be in favor of that,” he said. “I want to make sure we put everything in place, because I can tell you this: when we do this and a surviving victim sees it, it brings healing. That’s why I do it.”
Cupich said he would be prepared to refuse to allow priests of non-conforming orders to work in his archdiocese, as the report recommends, although he said he “would rather use the carrot than the stick, because we we need these religious orders”.
On another report recommendation, however, Cupich was more defensive. Raoul’s investigators have called for an independent mediation and victim compensation process similar to what the archdioceses of Los Angeles and New York have in place. The report argues that the third-party process gives victims a “confidential, non-adversarial place outside the control of the diocese to be heard and to be financially compensated for the trauma inflicted on them.”
Cupich said he did not want to outsource the compensation process because it would deprive the church of the ability to provide pastoral care to victims. He said he would continue with the process he had in place for years.
“My concern with outsourcing this to a separate third party is that we are turning into a business, not a church,” he said.