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Cardinal George
  Archdiocese of Chicago | Cardinal George 

February 15, 2004
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

A month ago I wrote to all the parishes of the Archdiocese to tell you of the audit which was soon to be published about the compliance of each diocese in this country with the provisions of the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Church. When the report, done by outside auditors as is the case with financial audits, was published, our Archdiocese was found to be in full compliance with the procedures set up by the Charter. We were, as well, commended for our victims’ assistance outreach and several other aspects of our efforts here to address the sins of the past and to assure a future free of this sin and crime of sexual abuse. The promise that no priest with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against him would remain in public ministry in the Church has been kept. The credibility of some of the allegations is, of course, still being reviewed in a few cases.

This note is to tell you of a second report, very different from the auditing of procedures, which will be published on February 27. As with the audit, I will not see this report from the John Jay College of New York until it is published. Unlike the audit, it will report numbers. It is a social science research study, based upon confidential data gathered from every diocese and religious order in the country. Like the audit, it was commissioned because the bishops promised to try to get to a deeper understanding of how this scandal occurred so that it may never be repeated.

Each diocese reported numbers of allegations, even anonymous accusations, numbers of priests accused, numbers of priests withdrawn, amounts spent for counseling priests and accusers, legal costs and settlements for the past fifty years. No other group has assembled comparable numbers, so no point of comparison to other groups will be possible. Nevertheless, with such an immense amount of raw data, the National Review Board will give a first interpretation and then social scientists will use this database for other studies in the months and years to come. The study is not a report on individual cases but a set of data which will show trends over the years, ages of victims and abusers throughout the country, the costs nationwide of this misconduct and the means taken, through insurance especially, to meet these costs. All this should lead to a more scientific understanding of causes and suggest changes that might be made for the future.

The basic data given by the Archdiocese to the John Jay researchers have been made public here in two reports. The first in 1992 covered forty years; the second, published in 2003, was an update covering ten years. Our data show that about two percent of the thousands of priests ministering to Catholics over the past fifty years have had a credible allegation of sexual abuse of minors against them. Many of these priests are now dead, a few are in prison, and all are out of ministry. Names have been published as priests were withdrawn, and every case has been reported to civil authorities responsible for the protection of minors in our society.

I ask you to receive this report as something to be brought to prayer. The Church is called to be holy; for our sanctification, Christ died. The Church has saints, but each saint is a reformed sinner. The sins of each harm us all. Each day I pray for those who have been sexually abused by priests of the Archdiocese. No matter when or how that abuse occurred, terrible harm, spiritual and psychological and sometimes physical, was inflicted. I pray also for the priests who have to face the Lord and his people as well as themselves. Let us keep each other in prayer.

God bless you and your families.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago





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