Cardinal George Prepares Parishioners for Study of Sex Abuse Scandal

By Bernie Tafoya
WBBM Newsradio 780 [Chicago IL]
February 14, 2004

(Chicago) -- Francis Cardinal George preparing Chicago area Catholics this weekend for the next bombshell to arise out of the priest sex abuse scandal.

In less than two weeks, on Feb. 27, a study is to be made public on how widespread the sex abuse scandal has been nationwide. The John Jay College study will include the total number of confirmed abuse allegations as well as the total number of priests who are alleged to have molested children since 1950.

The study will also spell out how much money the Catholic Church has awarded victims of priest sex abuse.

In a letter to parishioners in the Chicago archdiocese, Cardinal George points out in his message that Catholic bishops were the ones who authorized the study “to try to get a deeper understanding of how this scandal occurred so that it may never be repeated”.

Archdiocese Cchancellor Jimmy Lago says the numbers, while “they will certainly be shocking,” are not the whole story.

He prefers to focus on the study conclusions about the possible causes of priests abusing children and at what point in their priesthoods that kind of behavior is most likely to take place.

Lago says the Chicago archdiocese will be looking at formation and training of its priests based on the results of the study.

Cardinal George, meanwhile in this weekend’s message to parishioners, calls on people to receive the John Jay report “as something to be brought to prayer”. He says “the Church has saints, but each saint is a reformed sinner. The sins of each harm us all. Each day I pray for those who have been sexually abused by priests of the Archdiocese. No matter when or how that abuse occurred, terrible harm, spiritual and psychological and sometimes physical, was inflicted. I pray also for the priests who have to face the Lord and his people as well as themselves.”

Reports issued by the Chicago Archdiocese have noted that there have been 55 “founded” allegations of sex abuse by diocesan priests against children in the Chicago area. The allegations involved 36 priests.

Lago says the archdiocese will also release new information on Feb. 27 including the fact that there were actually slightly fewer than 55 confirmed allegations. He says in a few cases, there was a duplication of the same allegation in the figures.

Lago says the report issued nationally will be a “sober moment for all of us.”