About 6,000 pages of Chicago Archdiocese personnel files were in the hands of lawyers by the close of business day. That is the plan, as the church attempts to get out in front of the scandal that has gone on for decades.
Church leaders in Chicago say this is an attempt to begin the healing for the victims.
“It will reveal that we made mistakes, for sure, and sometimes its because we didn’t know any better,” said Bishop Francis Kane, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Bishop Kane addressed a room filled with reporters Wednesday after years of haggling with lawyers about sex abuse charges that critics say were being dismissed or simply covered up.
“There was no intention of covering up. It was just they didn’t realize it was such a terrible thing,” Kane said.
“There were conscious choices made for decades, from the 1950s to recently by top officials to protect the reputation of the archdiocese and protect the offenders and to keep what they knew secret,” said Jeff Anderson, attorney for the victims.
While the public will not get a glimpse of the voluminous report for another week, those who have seen it say it is raw and often hard to cut through for even those familiar with the facts.
“The information is upsetting. The information is painful. It’s difficult to read even without the benefit of hindsight,” said John O’Malley, lawyer with the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Thirty priests are singled out in this report, all of them targeted by lawyers who represent about more than 40 victims or “survivors” of sex abuse by priests. There are dozens more that fit the description that will also be made public down the road, the archdiocese says.
Not included in the lot: Order priests. They are not, according to Bishop Kane, under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese. The victim’s advocacy group SNAP is demanding still more transparency for the sake of past and future victims, they claim.
“Stop being disingenuous, Cardinal George. Tell the truth. The full truth. Protect all kids, not some kids,” said SNAP spokeswoman Kate Bochte.
The cardinal was not present at Wednesday’s news conference.