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Chicago Archdiocese Documents Detail Decades Of Sex Abuse
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Chicago Archdiocese Documents Detail Decades Of Sex Abuse

Religion

Chicago Archdiocese Documents Detail Decades Of Sex Abuse

Chicago Archdiocese Documents Detail Decades Of Sex Abuse
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The Archdiocese of Chicago released thousands of pages of documents detailing allegations of sexual abuse by three dozen priests. The documents had been kept secret for decades in some cases and the church says it is releasing them now in an effort to be transparent and to help bring healing to the victims of abuse. But abuse survivors say they feel betrayed, duped and deceived. They and their attorneys contend they were not allowed to help prepare the document release and therefore don't know what's still being hidden from public view.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Chicago's Catholic Archdiocese released thousands of pages of documents today detailing allegations of sexual abuse by three dozen priests. It is the second group of such documents the church in Chicago has made public this year. It fulfills a pledge by Chicago Cardinal Francis George to do so before he retires in two weeks. From Chicago, NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The newly released documents contain the stories of victims of clergy sexual abuse dating back to the 1950s and continuing into the 1990s. They show how 36 priests in the Chicago Archdiocese took advantage of children in their parishes and the trust of their parents. The documents show how higher-ups in the Chicago Archdiocese - bishops, vicars and even cardinals - often mishandled the allegations - sometimes ignoring the accusers, often just shuttling predatory priests to other parishes where they could abuse again.

JAN SLATTERY: We acknowledge that what has happened is - it's horrible.

SCHAPER: Jan Slattery is director of the Chicago Archdiocese Office for the Protection of Children and Youth. And she says, the church cannot change the sins of the past.

SLATTERY: All we can do now is work to rebuild trust, and we're doing that through what we hope is - with you - honest dialogue. We're trying to establish the truths so that we can begin to move forward in healing and reconciliation.

SCHAPER: Slattery says, none of the 36 priest named in the documents released today on the archdiocese website remain in active ministry. This release follows a similar document dropped back in January. Those files detailed substantiated sexual abuse allegations against 30 other priests. And the release today is timed two weeks before the retirement of Cardinal Francis George, who wanted this done on his watch before the installation of the new archbishop, Blase Cupich. In a statement, Cardinal George says, this shows the church's commitment to transparency. But that's not how the survivors of sexual abuse by priests see it.

JEFF ANDERSON: They're feeling like they are being duped and deceived.

SCHAPER: That's Jeff Anderson, who represents dozens of victims of clergy sex abuse in Chicago and other Catholic diocese around the country. He says, any disclosure of past incidents of abuse and the cover-ups that followed is in improvement over secrecy.

ANDERSON: But in this case, because we were not included in the process and were not allowed to scrutinize these files the way we were the earlier release, we are very suspicious of this process. We see it as an inside job.

SCHAPER: Anderson and other advocates for the survivors of abuse by priests say, they have no way of knowing if the archdiocese is being fully honest and transparent because they don't know what, if anything, is being left out of these files. He says, it's critical to release all information about the abuse and cover-ups of the past so it's not repeated in the future. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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