This week's explosion in the number of clergy credibly accused of clerical sex abuse in the six dioceses of Illinois proves that Cdl. Blase Cupich's plan of bishops investigating themselves is untenable.
State Attorney General Lisa Madigan released on Wednesday the results of her four-month investigation showing that Illinois bishops had only reported about one-fourth the number of accused priests as per the report: "The Illinois Dioceses have publicly identified only 185 clergy as having been 'credibly' accused of sexual abuse. As a result, the Illinois Dioceses have received allegations of sexual abuse for more than 500 clergy that the Illinois Dioceses have not shared with the public."
The total number of accused priests in the six dioceses of Illinois, therefore, stands at nearly 700. According to Catholic media reports in November, Cdl. Blase Cupich was pushing at the bishops' general assembly in Baltimore what's called the Cupich-Wuerl plan.
CNA reports that contrary to having an independent lay-led commission investigate allegations against bishops, the "Cupich-Wuerl plan would instead send allegations against bishops to be investigated by their metropolitan archbishops." This means that Cupich is proposing that all 700 cases be processed under him alone.
In her statement on Wednesday Madigan said the recent discoveries prove that such a proposal is wrongheaded.
"The preliminary stages of this investigation," said Madigan, "have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church cannot police itself. Allegations of sexual abuse of minors, even if they stem from conduct that occurred many years ago, cannot be treated as internal personnel matters."
She went on to tell media the same day that she found bishops were not to be trusted with such investigations.
"If they had an excuse not to investigate, they took it," said Madigan. "The Catholic Church, they should have never been in a position to police themselves."
Watch the panel discuss proof that bishops can't investigate themselves in The Download—Predators Exposed.