Big News from Illinois

The NY Times scooped the Catholic and the religious press: “Catholic Church in Illinois Withheld Names of at Least 500 Priests Accused of Abuse, Attorney General Says.” The Washington Post was slightly later, but provided more detail: “Illinois attorney general accuses Catholic Church of lowballing scope of sex abuse allegations.” The only Catholic paper that carried the story thus far was the Catholic News Agency (CNA): “Illinois AG report says dioceses failed abuse victims.”

In my opinion, the big news is not that the Catholic Church fraudulently “lowballed” the extent of sex abuse. This is its standard pattern of behavior. Many states have recently provided lists of priests “credibly” charged with abuse, and critics often claim these lists are lowballed. The Catholic Church has repeatedly lied and cover-up the facts about its crimes of child abuse for well over three decades. During this period, all three popes, including the sainted John Paul II, have publicly proclaimed zero tolerance for abuse and promised transparency - while privately impeding these goals.

The big news is that finally highly respected sources are willing to report that the Catholic Church is too corrupt to trust, and that investigations of child abuse need to be conducted by independent authorities. The NY Times reports: “The preliminary report by Attorney General Lisa Madigan concludes that the Catholic dioceses in Illinois are incapable of investigating themselves and 'will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.' ” Lisa Madigan, by the way, is a devout Catholic, so the usual defense of “Catholic persecution” does not apply.

Remarkably, both the Washington Post and the CNA failed to mention this conclusion. Instead, they both quoted the Church’s attorney:  “ ‘The idea that clergy sexual abuse of minors is more extensive than [we] reported is just false,’ archdiocesan attorney William Kunkel told the Washington Post” (from CNA). This is another blatant lie.

I’ll have more to say about the report later.


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