Study Finds Accused Pedophile Priests Clustered in Chicago Parishes

Orlando Sentinel
October 12, 2010

Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago who were credibly accused of sexual abuse served at nearly 60% of parishes in the city at some point in time, according to an in-depth statistical study of clerical assignments.

The Chicago-based affiliate of Voice of the Faithful, working with African American Advocates of Clergy Sexual Abuse, Bishop and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), collaborated on the five-year study, which used the official church registry and website to track the parishes and institutions where 97 credibly accused priests were assigned to work and live over a total of 4,114 man-years of ministry, from 1917 through 2009.

Among the study's key findings:

•A total of 256 of the Chicago Archdiocese's roughly 400 parishes and institutions, or approximately 60%, had an accused pedophile priest working there or in residence at some point in time.

•The percentage of parishes and institutions ministered by credibly accused priests approached 25% in the mid-1990's. In 2009, one in five institutions in the archdiocese still had a credibly accused priest in residence.

"This study raises deeply troubling questions about the way credibly accused priests were sent to parishes and residences," said VOTF vice president Janet Hauter. "The concentration of assignments in certain areas, the clustering of multiple pedophiles in the same place, and the total absence of assignments to parishes or institutions in other areas, all suggest that assignments were not made strictly in response to changing pastoral needs."

The study relied on the Bishop Accountability website (, widely recognized as the authoritative source for information on credibly accused clergy, and on VOTF and SNAP volunteers, who donated hundreds of person-hours to data collection, as well as the assistance of a statistician for data analysis.

Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The goals of the organization are to support survivors, support priests of integrity, and work towards structural change in the Church. For more information about VOTF please visit or email


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