Some 451 members of the clergy have committed pedophilic acts on nearly 2,000 minors in Illinois since the 1950s, far more than the church has admitted until then, the attorney general of this North American state revealed on Tuesday, May 23.
His services had opened an investigation into predatory priests in 2018, after the publication of a report on the Church of Pennsylvania, which had caused shock waves in the United States, and published their conclusions on Tuesday in a document of almost 700 pages.
“Prior to this investigation, the Catholic Diocese of Illinois had published a list of 130 documented pedophiles. By comparison, this report reveals the names and detailed information of 451 priests and brothers who abused at least 1,997 children.”writes prosecutor Kwame Raoul in the preamble.
These attackers, many of whom died, “must never be held accountable in court, but by appointing them we want to bring transparency and some peace of mind to the victims who have long suffered in silence”he adds.
In a preliminary report, her predecessor Lisa Madigan had already indicated that she had been notified “accusations against at least 500 priests” which was not on the list published by the six state foundations. The work of his successors has refined the count.
Priests transferred to other dioceses
His report contains many horrifying testimonies, including from a woman who, when she was ten, was repeatedly raped by a priest employed as a maths teacher in a Catholic school; or men, assaulted in childhood, who then struggled for years with suicidal thoughts and addictive behavior.
He also insists on the responsibility of the hierarchy, which for a long time was content to transfer the priests accused of pedocrime to other dioceses, without condemning them.
The American Catholic Church was rocked by a series of articles in the Boston Globe in 2002 about abuse by priests in this eastern city. These revelations, popularized in the movie “Spotlight,” have freed the voices of victims across the country.
Since then, many priests have been expelled from the priesthood and prosecuted. The church has also paid large sums to compensate the victims.
In 2018, the prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania dealt a new blow to the Church by describing the sexual abuse committed by more than 300 priests on a thousand children over several decades.
In the process, several states conducted comparable studies. In April, Maryland released a list of 150 predatory priests guilty of child abuse. “terrible and repetitive” of at least 600 children from the 1940s to 2002.