An Illinois court has ordered the release of church documents related to sexual abuse investigations.
The name of 15 more priests, who worked in the Joliet Diocese from the 1930s through 2006 were released today. All of them, according to church documents, had credible accusations of abuse throughout their career. Many of them continued in their pastoral duties after allegations came to light, sometimes being transferred from church to church through the Joliet Diocese.
Of the 15 priests named today, five of them are now dead. The 10 others have been removed from ministry roles.
In his order, Judge Michael Powers said there is a compelling public interest to protect children from being sexually exploited and abused and that any privacy rights of individual priests must yield to the state’s public interest to protect children.
In a statement released today, the current head of the Joliet Diocese, Bishop Daniel Conlon, who was appointed in 2011, said in part,
“The tragic history of child abuse in the Diocese of Joliet has unfolded publicly over a long period. No human action, really, can fix the past. My focus is on the future, trying to do everything in my power to assure that the children of this diocese are safe.”
The attorneys who pushed for the release of these church files tell WGN that having these documents out in the open not only will shed light on the inner workings of the church but let’s those abused know they aren’t alone.