According to recently released internal documents from the Archdiocese of Chicago, top leaders helped to cover up decades of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests. The documents were released as part of a settlement between attorneys for the archdiocese and the sexual abuse victims, and depict that priests were purposefully moved from parish to parish to hide the clerics’ histories from the public. Two Cardinals, John Cody and Joseph Bernadin, approved these clandestine moves to protect Chicago priests engaging in sexual abuse.
Victims Look for Accountability from Catholic Church
While Chicago is not alone in horrific tales of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests, the newly released documents detail the broadest look yet into the scandal of how a large and influential archdiocese responded to the problem. The documents were posted online yesterday by victims’ attorneys, but for only 30 of the at least 65 clergy for whom the archdiocese says it has substantiated claims of sexual abuse. An attorney for the archdiocese said that 95% of the sexual abuse incidents occurred before 1988 and none after 1996; he also noted that 14 out of the 30 priests implicated have died, two are no longer priests, and none are active in ministry. However, for the victims that endured the sexual abuse, this is not a comforting statement, as they pushed for 9 years for church to provide the public with the truth and are haunted by painful memories. The news out of Chicago echoes the revelation earlier this month by the Duluth Diocese, which released the names of 17 clergy members who were accused of abusing children in Minnesota.
New Pope, New Culture?
Pope Francis has turned a lot of heads during his brief tenure as pontiff. So far, he seems to have taken aim at some of the Church’s shortcomings and has sharply criticized the training of catholic priests, who can become “little monsters” if they are not properly schooled. The Pope has also encouraged reaching out to a “changing” generation and being more open-minded about parishioner’s family situations. Although a lot of work remains to be done to clean up an unseemly culture that has persisted for decades, if not centuries, there may be hope for a brighter future.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.