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Chicago archbishop speaks out about AG report on sexual abuse

The archbishop of Chicago is speaking out about a bombshell report on sexual abuse in the church released by the Illinois attorney general’s office earlier this week.

Cardinal Blase Cupich said he was surprised that the 125 newly uncovered alleged sexual abusers at the Chicago Archdiocese involved some priests he had never heard of, adding he was frustrated at Attorney General Kwame Raoul for not notifying him in advance.

“We thought we had that kind of relationship with the attorney general and so are disappointed that we’re hearing these for the first time,” Cupich told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Speaking during a visit to the Vatican, where he serves as a close adviser to Pope Francis, Cupich said he would gladly add the names of priests revealed in the AG’s investigation to his list of credibly accused priests — if the claims of abuse turn out to be substantiated.

On Tuesday, Raoul said 451 clergy members abused at least 1,997 children across all six dioceses in Illinois between 1950 and 2019 — more than four times the 103 child sex abusers previously reported by the dioceses.

The report was the conclusion of a multi-year investigation — which started in 2008 under Raoul’s predecessor, Lisa Madigan — involving the review of more than 100,000 pages of documents held by the dioceses, as well as interviews with church leaders and survivors.

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When Madigan first announced the investigation into the abuse, only two of six dioceses in Illinois posted a list of substantiated Catholic cleric child sex abusers on their websites — the Archdiocese of Chicago listed 68 abusers, while the Diocese of Joliet listed 35.

By the time Raoul concluded the investigation, the archdiocese of Chicago — which serves around 2.2 million Catholics in Cook and Lake Counties — had 150 names on its list of credibly accused clergy.

The report found 125 additional abusers. Cupich said he would add them to his list, but he would first need to know how state investigators substantiated their claims.

“I can assure the public this: If these cases are substantiated and we’re given the information of how it was [done], we will put them on our website,” the archbishop told the AP during an interview at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

However, Cupich was less acceptive of a recommendation from the report regarding calls for an independent process to compensate victims.

“My concern about contracting this out to a separate third party is that we turn ourselves into a business, not a church,” he said.

With News Wire Services

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