CHICAGO (AP) — Months after it revealed it had concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests for decades, the Archdiocese of Chicago planned to release files Thursday on about three dozen more abusive clergy members to fulfill Cardinal Francis George’s pledge to make them public before he retires.
The archdiocese made public the files on 30 abusive priests in January, and it planned to post the files on 35 more on its website at 9 a.m. Altogether, the 15,000 pages of documents will outline how the archdiocese dealt with abuse allegations over the past six decades.
“Cardinal George wanted it finished on his watch,” said John O’Malley, special counsel to the archbishop for misconduct issues. O’Malley said George didn’t want Bishop Blase Cupich to have to deal with the issue when he assumes leadership of the nation’s third largest archdiocese later this month.
A report provided by the archdiocese to The Associated Press and other media this week suggests the documents will be similar to those made public in January that described how the archdiocese hid the histories of abusive priests moving between parishes, did not swiftly remove the men from the priesthood, and in some cases helped them remain priests for years after allegations against them were deemed credible.
The files cover more than 350 incidents of abuse since 1952. The vast majority of the reported incidents happened when the late Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin headed the archdiocese. George took the helm in 1997.
Not included among the documents will be allegations against former priest Daniel McCormack, whose case could have shed light on how George handled suspected abuse. McCormack pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children and his case prompted an internal investigation of how the archdiocese responds to abuse claims and an apology from George. But O’Malley said the archdiocese is prohibited by law from releasing McCormack’s file because there remains pending civil litigation.
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