The Archdiocese of Chicago released new documents involving 36 priests with substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors with most of the instances occurring prior to 1988. Issued on Nov. 6, the documents are in addition to those released in January regarding 30 other priests and are available at www.archchicago.org. According to a statement released by the archdiocese, every priest with one or more substantiated cases of sexual abuse of a minor are out of ministry with the archdiocese. “As we said in January, we are committed to transparency with the people we serve,” said Cardinal Francis George, OMI. “We cannot change the past but we hope we can rebuild trust through honest and open dialogue. Child abuse is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese of Chicago is concerned first and foremost with bringing healing to abuse victims.” The names of every priest charged with sexual abuse has been available on the archdiocesan website for years. The documents added to the already available information, and went through a tedious review process before publication in order to comply with legal restrictions regarding the privacy of minors and victims, as well as restrictions regarding the release of medical and mental health information. The identities of the offenders were not protected in the review or publication of the documents. The Archdiocese of Chicago is in a period of leadership transition. In September, Pope Francis announced that Bishop Blase Cupich, formerly of the diocese of Spokane, Wash., would replace Cardinal George after 17 years of serving as archbishop of Chicago. Cupich, whose official installation is Nov. 18, has spoken at conferences on clergy sexual abuse, and has said that church officials need to maintain a “visceral connection” to the pain and damage done to those abused by priests, and that bishops need to remain vigilant for all signs of abuse, as reported in an article by the National Catholic Register. Pope Francis has spoke out strongly against clerical sexual abuse of minors. In July, he begged for forgiveness from victims of abuse, and called sexual abuse by priests “execrable acts.” “There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” Pope Francis said. Around 15,000 pages of material on the 36 priests were released by the Archdiocese of Chicago Thursday. Of all the cases included in the documents, 92 percent occurred prior to 1988. Of the 36 priests included, 14 are deceased. There is no priest serving in Chicago with a substantiated case of abuse.
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