25 News Now [Peoria, IL]
May 23, 2023
By Will Stevenson
PEORIA (WMBD Radio and 25News) – A 700-page report released Tuesday shows the extent of child sex abuse and the cover-up by the members of the Catholic Diocese across Illinois.
One section dedicated just to the Diocese of Peoria lists the dozens of priests facing accusations.
The report has many stories from survivors naming the priests and the reaction from the Diocese of Peoria, those validated reports begin in the 1940′s.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul says, “it was the survivors of child sex abuse that gave purpose and drive to this investigation.”
The first local case listed in the investigation dates back to a 1946 letter from the church acknowledging a priest abused girls younger than 16 years old, how many girls is not clear.
The report says that the priest was allowed to resign from his position and the public statement on it was he left for “health problems.”
Raoul says there were “451 catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused at least 1,997 children across all of the dioceses in the state of Illinois.”
The Diocese of Peoria covers 26 counties in the state with 156 parishes.
The years-long investigation into sex abuse across the state highlights abuse covering the Dioceses of Peoria under the tenure of 6 bishops.
Since 1946, the reports show 51 priests in the Peoria dioceses committed sexual abuse, with a total of at least 142 survivors counted.
Only two of them faced any legal consequences, all were re-assigned to other parishes, and many still remained under the Diocese of Peoria.
The majority of the 51 priests named have died already.
The report also goes into detail about the allegations from 1946 to 2018, including accounts of the abuse and the frequency in which it occurred. Raoul says, “Decades of catholic leadership and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide often in plain sight and because of the statute of limitations have frequently expired. Many survivors at the hands of catholic clerics will never see justice in the legal sense.”
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria says to its knowledge, there isn’t a single priest currently with what it calls a “substantial allegation” that’s currently ministering, or who hasn’t been reported to the authorities.
That’s according to a statement put out by the diocese Tuesday, after Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s report suggesting as many as two thousand children in Illinois were abused by priests between 1950 and 2019, far more often than thought.
The following is the Diocese of Peoria’s statement released Tuesday afternoon:
Today, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office released its long-awaited report regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. They reviewed files dating back to the 1800s. The report highlights criminal behavior that has historically been present in every sector of human life, and which is all the more shocking when perpetrated by those who have publicly committed themselves to serving God and his people. Much of the information in the Report dates to more than half a century ago. The steps that the Church in the United States put into place some twenty years ago have gone a long way to address the scourge of sexual abuse and it is our sincere hope that other areas of our society will implement similar safeguards that protect the most vulnerable among us. Over the past twenty years, the Diocese under Bishop Daniel Jenky’s leadership, with the assistance of the Diocesan attorney Patricia Gibson, the Vicars General and the Diocesan Review Board has endeavored to treat all survivors with the utmost respect and sensitivity. As noted in the Attorney General’s report, the Diocese has implemented significant changes that have made the Church safer for children. The Diocese reports all allegations of abuse to civil authorities. To the Diocese’s knowledge, there is not a single priest of the Diocese with a substantiated allegation who is currently in ministry or who has not been reported to authorities. Bishop Louis Tylka and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria remain committed to our efforts to heal the wounds of those who have suffered abuse and to the protection of God’s children everywhere.
The new statement comes less than a week after Illinois’ Catholic Churches put out a combined statement about processes put in place for the reporting and investigation of sex abuse cases.
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