On Wednesday, Chicago's archdiocese will begin to release documents related to decades of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy.
The files are being released as a settlement and concern 30 priests and 40 victims of abuse. All of the incidents occurred before Francis George became archbishop in 1997, and George stated that the crimes "followed the now well-known national trends" of the 1970s and '80s.
The Chicago Tribune writes:
One-third of the total number [of priests] are dead, many others have been removed from the priesthood, and none is now in active ministry, according to an attorney who represented the clergymen's interests in negotiations that led to the release. An attorney for the archdiocese told the Tribune that 95 percent of the incidents in the records occurred more than 25 years ago, and none occurred since 1996.
Writing on the archdiocese's website on Sunday, Cardinal Francis George stated, "the publication puts the actions of these men and the archdiocese itself in the spotlight. Painful though publicly reviewing the past can be, it is part of the accountability and transparency to which the archdiocese is committed," and that, "publishing for all to read the actual records of these crimes raises transparency to a new level. It will be helpful, we pray, for some, but painful for many."
According to the Associated Press, the archdiocese has paid millions in settlements to abuse victims over the years. In 2008, the church paid out $12.6 million to 16 victims. Father Daniel McCormack, who pleaded guilty to abusing five children in 2007, is not included in the documents being released. His records were sealed by a judge due to ongoing criminal proceedings.
Cardinal Francis also wrote in his letter to parishioners that the church has been reporting abuse cases to law enforcement for the last twenty years and keeps a list of priests believed to have committed misconduct on their website.