Priest Sex Abuse Report Expected
Archdiocese Says Long-Awaited Data Ready for Release

By Julia Lieblich
Chicago Tribune [Chicago IL]
January 16, 2003

After a nine-month delay, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced plans to release a report Thursday on how it has handled cases of priest sex abuse over the last decade.

Cardinal Francis George originally called for the review last March, as the abuse scandal was exploding nationwide. Observers called the effort significant given that Chicago has often been called a model diocese because of its independent review board and policy of reporting abuse to civil authorities, both established in 1992.

The following month, George brought a summary of the report's findings to an extraordinary summit of bishops in Rome to discuss sex abuse in the church. He said the archdiocese would release the report soon after, but it was not made public.

Officials said the report would be released in May, and then in June, but both times it was delayed.

Later, officials promised the report in the early fall after the archdiocese incorporated policy changes mandated by the new sex abuse policy the nation's Catholic bishops passed in Dallas in June.

"We are trying to think through a number of policy questions that arose," archdiocesan chancellor Jimmy Lago said at the time, including whether priests would be allowed back in ministry.

The answer was no. After the Dallas norms were passed, the archdiocese removed from ministry eight priests who had been under monitoring because of sexual abuse charges.

Finally, Lago said he wanted to wait for Rome's approval of the Dallas norms before releasing the report. The Vatican gave the go-ahead on Nov. 13, and the archdiocese promised its report in a week or two.

Two months later, the archdiocese has announced the release.

The report will include policies that were revised according to the norms, archdiocesan spokesman James Dwyer said Wednesday.

Lago had said earlier that he also wanted to incorporate the resolution of the case involving Rev. Raymond Skriba, a Round Lake pastor who was removed from ministry earlier this month after the archdiocese determined that charges against him were substantiated.

Victims advocates initially applauded the review effort. On Wednesday, Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said she hoped the report would offer full disclosure.

"I think that the first thing is to protect children that could be at risk, and number two is to help victims heal," she said. "I think the way to ensure both is to disclose the names of the perpetrators--anyone they believe they have credible allegations against--whether the perpetrator is still in ministry, out of the priesthood, or deceased."

Blaine cited the case of former priest James Hagan, complaining that the archdiocese chose not to announce that it recently found credible a new allegation of abuse dating to when he was a priest.

Dwyer said Hagan's name was made public in 1996, when he was removed from ministry because of allegations that he sexually abused minors.

The archdiocese has disclosed the names of all priests against whom there are credible allegations but cannot be responsible for the actions of former priests, Dwyer said earlier this week.

He would not say who is named in the report.


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