Illinois Catholic Dioceses publish processes document on handling allegations of sexual abuse

WREX [Rockford IL]

May 18, 2023

By Nick Landi

All Illinois Catholic dioceses issued a summary of their common processes for handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors against any Catholic cleric who has ministered within their respective boundaries.

The Catholic Church in the United States set in motion similar processes in response to a growing understanding that, over its history, church clerics and other personnel had sexually abused children in their care and that the response to these crimes had been insufficient.

While most processes have been in place for a while, Illinois dioceses have either described or applied them in different ways.

Each Illinois diocese has continually improved its policies to conform to national standards and as a result of its experiences.

In 2019, Pope Francis issued the decree entitled, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, mandating a world-wide system for the reporting, investigating, and resolving allegations against bishops, both of participating in an act of abuse, and of failing to respond appropriately to allegations of abuse by another cleric.

“The Catholic Church in Illinois has been at the forefront of dealing with sexual abuse of minors for many years,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and Metropolitan of the Chicago Province.

“In 1992, the Archdiocese of Chicago, led by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, formulated and adopted policies for handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy including, for the first time, a lay review board. Cardinal Bernardin presented the Chicago policies to the USCCB meeting in 1993. These policies formed the basis of the USCCB 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Cardinal Cupich continued, “At this time, working with the Office of the Attorney General of

Illinois, the leaders of all six Illinois dioceses endeavored to make clear and update our approach, mindful of our lived experience and best practices in this field. Our common goals in doing so are to ensure we offer pastoral support to those affected by this tragedy and to work diligently to prevent it from occurring again.”

The bishops of the Illinois dioceses stand ready to collaborate with all agencies and organizations in Illinois that care for and educate children in establishing effective policies and practices for child safety.

The Illinois Catholic dioceses – Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield -serve 3.4 million Catholics, comprising approximately 27 percent of the total state population, through more than 900 parishes.

All dioceses act immediately upon receipt of an allegation of sexual abuse of minors.