US archdiocese braced for ‘pain’ of abuse files

Chicago to open historic files

Catholics in the US Archdiocese of Chicago have been urged to “prepare” for the pain to come when files relating to historical abuse are released this week.

Ahead of the opening to public scrutiny of files relating to 30 priests linked with Chicago, the archdiocese’s leader, Cardinal Francis George, issued a letter to all parishes calling on priests to make the faithful ready for the inevitable attention turned on the local Church.

“It is important for you and your people to be prepared for this event since it will place the archdiocese in the spotlight.”


At pains to point out that the files relate to historical allegations and “there is no priest in public ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago who has been found to have sexually abused a child”, Cardinal George nevertheless warns that publishing for all to read the actual records of these crimes raises transparency to a new level. “It will be helpful, we pray, for some, but painful for many.”


While the majority of abuse cases occurred during the tenure of his immediate predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Cardinal George has himself been criticised for his own handling of a case of clerical abuse, that by former Fr Daniel McCormack, who has cost Chicago millions of dollars in settlements with his victims.

He pleaded guilty in 2007 to the abuse of five youngsters, though nine other cases have since come to light.  Cardinal George has admitted to mistakes in the McCormack case, though in his letter to parishes, he insists that he was unaware of then-Fr McCormackís history when he first assumed the bishopric of Chicago in 1997 and writes: “He had been ordained by Cardinal Bernardin, who vetted his seminary record.”

As The Irish Catholic went to press this week, a date for the release of the Chicago files was to be finalised.