Web Site Lets People Research Chicago-Area Priests
Advocate for Victims of Clergy Abuse Decries the Requirement That Users' Names Be Given
Associated Press, carried in Indianapolis Star [Chicago IL]
March 14, 2004
CHICAGO -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has launched a Web site that allows people to research whether one of its priests has been accused of sexual misconduct with children.
Victims groups criticized the project, saying it discourages users by requiring them to reveal their names and reasons for their inquiries.
"This is an effort to appear that they're going to give information when it's actually a ploy to obtain information," said Barbara Blaine, an advocate for victims abused by priests.
The Web site is part of a settlement in October in which the archdiocese agreed to provide information on 55 priests involved in 140 credible cases of sexual abuse in the past 50 years.
Archdiocese spokesman Jim Dwyer defended the policy of requiring users' names, saying it will discourage people from compiling lists of priests accused of crimes and publicizing them.
"To put a list out there implies that they have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Dwyer said.
The archdiocese Web site, www.archdiocese-chgo.org, requires users to complete a form listing their name, address and reason for the request. Users also must list the priest's name, where he was assigned and when.
Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many abuse victims will not be willing to give their names and may not have all the information needed to do a search on the site.
Last fall, archdiocesan Chancellor Jimmy Lago said church officials hoped to set up a database that was searchable by simply typing in the priest's name.
Dwyer said officials had considered such a system but said the technology needed was too time-consuming.
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