Cardinal Asks for Prayerful Consideration of Forthcoming Abuse Report

WBBM Newsradio 780 [Chicago IL]
February 26, 2004

(Chicago) -- The statistics about to be released in a nationwide study of sexual abuse accusations involving Catholic priests over the last 54 years will be distasteful. But Francis Cardinal George says they won't be a surprise.

Cardinal George says the Archdiocese has already warned Chicago-area Catholics that the statistics, compiled by the John Jay College of New York for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, show credible accusations against about two per cent of the priests who have served in the Archdiocese over the past 50 years.

Earlier this week, the Joliet diocese, which encompasses DuPage, Will, Grundy, Kendall, Kankakee, Ford, and Iroquois counties, reported that 113 credible accusations have been made against 27 priests. Of that number, 14 are on administrative leave, eight have left the priesthood and five are dead.

In the Peoria diocese downstate, credible accusations have been made against 14 priests, five of whom are dead.

CNN has reported that a draft of the John Jay study indicated that 4,450 of the 110,000 clergy who have served in the U.S. since 1950 have been accused of molesting minors.

As recently as Feb. 15, Cardinal George released a letter that said, "Many of these priests are now dead, a few are in prison, and all are out of the ministry."

Cardinal George said names of the priests are published as the priests are removed from ministry, and said each case has been reported to civil authorities.

He said he is asking Chicagoans to "receive this report as something to be brought to prayer," and said no priest credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors is in active ministry in the Archdiocese.

A compliance audit report, compiled by the bishops' conference and release last month, found the Archdiocese to be in compliance with the provisions of the 2002 bishops' charter.

Cardinal George said he has made a point of speaking with victims to try to help them, and said he prays for them daily.