Bishop Accountability

Credibly Accused Archdiocesan Priests: 55
Total Archdiocesan Priests: 2,513
Cases of Abuse: 142
Cost: $38,700,000 (of which $26,900,000 for victim assistance, settlement, and support [1950-2003]; $5,900,000 for treatment and monitoring of priests [1992-2003]; and $5,900,000 for legal fees [1992-2003])

The letter from Cardinal Francis George that is reproduced below was also provided by the archdiocese in PDF, along with an information sheet containing four graphs.

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Cardinal Francis George. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.

Cardinal Responds to John Jay Study

February 26, 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Today the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City released a nationwide social science research study, commissioned by the U.S. Bishops, on clerical sexual abuse of minors. The John Jay Study is a quantitative analysis based on confidential data gathered from almost every diocese, eparchy, and religious order in the U.S. on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy from 1950 to 2002. The data will be crucial in searching for the causes of clerical sexual abuse and in preventing it in the future. This is the study's purpose. A report by the National Review Board providing context for the John Jay data will also be released today.

Officials of the Archdiocese have already published basic data in two reports covering the periods 1950 to 1992 and 1993 to 2002. This information has been updated through December 31, 2003, and is shown on the attached information sheet.

Archdiocesan records reflect that 2,513 archdiocesan priests served in the Archdiocese of Chicago between 1950 and 2003. The Archdiocese has found reason to suspect that, during these 53 years, sexual misconduct with a minor occurred in 142 cases involving 55 Archdiocesan priests, about 2 percent of archdiocesan priests. Of the 55 priests, 13 are deceased, 22 have resigned from the priesthood and 20 are withdrawn from ministry. None is engaged in any public ministry. All cases have been reported to the public authorities.

Money spent because of clerical sexual abuse includes $26.9 million for victim assistance, settlements and support in the period 1950-2003. Beginning in 1992, the year the Bernardin Commission established procedures for dealing with clerical sexual misconduct, through December 31, 2003, $5.9 million was spent for treatment and monitoring of priests, and $5.9 million for legal expenses. Of the $5.9 million spent on legal fees, $1.3 million was spent to defend a priest and a school principal judged to be innocent by a civil jury.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, complying with the definition of “allegation” supplied by the John Jay Study, reported for the study all recorded notifications of clerical sexual misconduct with minors, whether or not they resulted in any investigation or whether there was reasonable cause to suspect abuse had occurred.

Since 1992, the Archdiocese of Chicago has addressed allegations of abuse of minors and promoted healing of victims through an Assistance Ministry office, an independent Review Board, and a regular process for reporting abuse allegations to the civil authorities and the public. More recently, the Archdiocese created an Office for the Protection of Children and Youth. It oversees child abuse training programs and background screenings of over 50,000 employees and volunteers. These measures have allowed us to reach out to victims and parish communities, to create safe environments for children and to remove from ministry any priest for whom there was reasonable cause to suspect that sexual misconduct with a minor had occurred. All of these initiatives will continue in our seminaries, schools, parishes and ministry offices.

The bishops of the United States have kept the promises they made during and following their June, 2002, Dallas meeting. All offending priests have been removed from ministry; an independent study was undertaken to understand the extent and causes of clerical misconduct; and policies and procedures have been put in place in every diocese in the United States to deal with abuse allegations, to insure the safety of children and to communicate openly with the public. Most important of all, the care of victims has been formalized and will remain high on the agenda of the Church.

The publication of these results reminds us that some priests betrayed the trust placed in them by Christ, by the children He loves, and by families. Church leaders who failed to act on their behalf only added to the harm done. I again sincerely apologize to the victims and to their families for the anguish they have endured. I offer once again an invitation to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse by a priest or deacon to bring this information to our attention by contacting the Office of Professional Responsibility at 1-800-994-6200.

The consequences of these failures have deeply affected the entire Catholic community. I know that many of you are angered and embarrassed, as am I. We can learn from the transgressions of the past, however, and make as sure as we can that no other child or young person goes through what those who have been victims continue to suffer.

You are always in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago

Religious Orders Absent from Bishop's Sex-Abuse Report
Draft of Bishops' Report Shows Depth of Abuse

NBC5 (Chicago)
February 17, 2004

CHICAGO -- A draft of the bishops' report of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal reveals that 4,450 priests have been accused of abuse involving 11,000 children over the past 50 years, NBC5's Mary Ann Ahern reported.

Numbers Show Depth Of Abuse

But now, there are new fears that those figures are just the tip of the iceberg. In the survey, which tracked priest sex abuse, bishops provided the numbers from their dioceses, but the Washington office conducting the review said only half of the religious orders responded, and such orders account for half of the priests in Cook and Lake counties.

In the case of a Christian Brother at a suburban high school, there is no way to know if his case has been counted. Two young men who attended St. Laurence High School said Brother Robert Berlet (pictured, [below]) sexually abused them in the mid- and late-1990s. They have filed civil suits against Berlet and the archdiocese, but the archdiocese says Berlet is a Christian Brother, a member of a religious order completely separate from the archdiocese.

Attorney Jeanine Stevens says the Christian Brothers moved Berlet at least nine times and believes his trail of abuse extends 30 years.

According to Stevens, "The archdiocese says, 'We have no responsibility for St. Laurence High School. The congregation of Christian Brothers is not our responsibility."

Berlet was arrested at a restaurant at 81st and Harlem four years ago, after allegedly setting up a meeting on the Internet.

"He thought he was meeting a 12-year-old boy," Stevens said.

While no charges came from that Internet sting, Berlet had also reportedly bragged about the child pornography he owned, and that charge stuck, though in Stevens' opinion, the punishment did not fit the crime.

"He was arrested on 10 charges of child pornography, convicted on all 10, and for some bizarre reason, was given probation," Stevens said.

Berlet now lives at a Christian Brother residence. He continues to write letters to former victims, detailing his sexual preferences and explaining he has changed his name to Robert Sullivan, Ahern reported. His probation ends in a month.

Meanwhile, the two young men who attended St. Laurence, now in their early 20s, are trying to cope with what they say happened.

When the priest report is released next week, no names will be issued, and there are no plans to identify the religious orders that complied, Ahern said.

NBC5 also has learned that Anne Burke, the head of the national review board releasing the report, has made two trips to the Vatican to ask questions of church leaders as the review board tries to come up with how this crisis got so out of hand for so long.

The figures in the report were first reported by CNN but were confirmed through NBC5's own sources. Ahern said that the report shows that 4,450 priests from 1950 to 2002 have been accused of abuse, 11,000 allegations in all. The majority (78 percent) of the victims were between 11 and 17 years old. Sixteen percent of the victims were between 8 and 10 years old, while 6 percent were 7 years old or younger.

"You have to tell the truth," said Rev. Don Senior, president of Catholic Theological Union. "You have to lay it all out, if you really want to have forgiveness, if you really want to amend your ways."

The official release of the report coincides with the first Friday of Lent, which for Christians is a time of reflection and atonement for one's sins.

Barbara Blaine, of Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests said there is no way for Catholics to see exactly who has been removed.

"If the names were released, we'd have a better sense of the true numbers," she said.

The review board is expected to say the crisis happened because of a failure to grasp the gravity of the problem, an overemphasis on the avoidance of the scandal, use of unqualified treatment centers, misguided willingness to forgive and insufficient accountability, Ahern reported.

Catholics left Holy Name cathedral on Monday with Francis Cardinal George's letter on the upcoming report, which said: "Each day I pray for those who have been sexually abused by priests of the archdiocese and I pray also for priests who have to face the Lord and his people, as well as themselves."

Ahern further reported that NBC5 has, over the years, reported that 62 archdiocesan priests have been removed since 1950 -- and just in the last 12 years more than $30 million has been spent on treatment, legal fees and other costs.

Next week, Ahern further reported, the archdiocese will provide an even more detailed update on those numbers.


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