State Journal-Register [Springfield IL]
May 24, 2023
By Steven Spearie
A member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) urged Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki to provide full assignment records for credibly accused priests living in or who previously served in the diocese.
Members of SNAP gathered outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday afternoon.
David Clohessy, the former national director of SNAP from St. Louis and a clerical abuse survivor, made his case in a letter to Paprocki Wednesday. The letter was provided to The State Journal-Register.
Clohessy said Paprocki is the only one of the Illinois bishops who refuses to reveal the parishes and other sites where child molesting clerics have worked.
Clohessy’s plea echoes one of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, whose multiyear investigation into child sexual abuse by members of Illinois’ Catholic clergy was detailed in a report released Tuesday.
That investigation found 451 Catholic priests and religious brothers abused nearly 2,000 children in the state’s six diocese over seven decades.
Clohessy also urged Paprocki to post the names of at least nine alleged child molesting clerics who are missing from the Springfield diocese’s predator list. The nine were mentioned by name in the AG report and have been “credibly accused” by other Catholic officials.
“As we’ve done time and time again, we again beg you to do more to help safeguard kids, help heal victims and help the truth to be exposed,” Clohessy wrote. “We hope that the harsh criticism you’ve received (in the AG report) will succeed where we have failed.”
Standing near the corner of Sixth Street and Lawrence Avenue, Clohessy said Catholics should feel “deeply embarrassed to see (their) spiritual leader deflect blame and minimize things.
“The crimes (committed) may be old. The cover-up continues, the risk to kids today around these undisclosed predators continues and the devastating harm continues, day-in and day-out.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Paprocki thanked the AG’s office for its work and reminded the public of the diocese’s listing of substantiated cases.
“As bishop of this diocese, I cannot undo the damages of the past, but I have been and continue to be fully committed to ensuring we do all what we can to prevent abuse from happening again,” Paprocki said.
Also in Springfield for an extended spring session, state lawmakers addressed the AG report Wednesday morning. Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, thanked the survivors for their testimony provided to investigators and recognized SNAP’s late founder, Barbara Ann Blaine.
“We are grateful for your efforts to release the shame and secrecy that have plagued the church for decades on the issue,” she said on the House floor.
Blaine founded SNAP in 1988 and served as its president until February 2017, just months before she passed away.
This story will be updated.
Reporter Patrick Keck of The State Journal-Register contributed to this report. Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, email@example.com, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.