Catholic Priest in church

Catholic leaders claim the unreported accusations lacked credibility, but Illinois state investigators tell a different story.


How much is the Catholic Church not telling us? That’s the question many are asking in the wake of the most recent clergy abuse revelations in Illinois. The state attorney general’s office reported this week that Catholic dioceses in Illinois neglected to report at least 500 priests and clergy members accused of sexual misconduct.

Five. Hundred. Priests. In Illinois alone. And that’s on top of the 185 priests the church did decide to report – meaning the total number of potential offenders is actually pushing 700.

The state attorney general launched its investigation following the disturbing reports out of Pennsylvania earlier this year, hoping to identify potential offenders who’d been flying under the radar up until now. They just happened to stumble into an alarming cover-up.

Looking Behind the Curtain

Catholic leaders have since pushed back, claiming that they reported all the allegations that were deemed credible. Those that weren’t reported simply didn’t have enough evidence, officials insist.

But state investigators tell a different story. Their probe “has revealed that allegations frequently have not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all.” Apparently, the Catholic Church doesn’t have a specific standard for what qualifies as a “credible” accusation – meaning that decision is left up to individual church leaders who habitually choose not to air the damaging information.

Can the Church Be Believed?

Look, it’s possible that the Illinois Catholic Church is innocent of any wrongdoing, and that each one of those 500 allegations really were spurious or lacking credibility. But it’s possible in the same way that it’s “possible” ISIS is planning a grand transformation into a pro-Israel human rights organization, or that North Korea will suddenly decide to give up its nuclear weapon stash and join forces with the U.S. to denounce religious persecution in China.

It could be true, but all available evidence points to the contrary.

Pope Francis sitting in a chair

Pope Francis has struggled with how to contain the fallout from ongoing clergy abuse issues.

Let’s face it: the Church’s protestations would be far more believable if it weren’t for a disturbing and well-documented track record of covering up allegations and downplaying clergy abuse over the course of multiple decades.

In 2002, the house of cards began to fall when the famed “Spotlight” team at the Boston Globe published the first accounts of widespread abuse in the church. Over the past 16 years, as allegation after allegation has been brought to light, the Church’s reputation has effectively been dismantled. The result? There is little doubt – in the eyes of the public, anyway – as to whether this latest report is accurate.

Restoring Trust

That’s not to say there isn’t a path to recovery for Catholicism. If stamped out properly, this plague could eventually be relegated to an unfortunate chapter in history textbooks. But restoring trust first requires acknowledging the full scope of the problem and adopting tough measures to address it. Pope Francis is pushing for the Church to clean up its act worldwide, which is a step in the right direction.

However, the fact that massive new allegations are still surfacing years after these issues were first identified has some wondering: what else has yet to be uncovered? Have we seen the worst of the epidemic, or is this still just the tip of the iceberg?

 

51 comments

  1. Lionheart says:

    I don’t believe in Satan, but if there was one, the Roman Catholic Church would be its head.

    1. Don says:

      Why? The Church is evil, and has a long history of evil deeds.
      Name one evil deed performed by Satan. And no mentioning Job, as that was God and Satan playing a game.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Job also makes good rolling papers.

    2. Minister Post says:

      Totally agree, the Jesuit order has a satanic ritual background.. The apostasy in the church is staggering, and miss leading. The saying of, “once saved always saved”, is deadly and will lead Christians to their death.

      1. Don says:

        Sin = manufactured problem
        Salvation = manufactured solution (for a price!)

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          I read in the dictionary that sin only means missing the mark.

          1. Carl Elfstrom says:

            I also like the song that goes “Salvation Army, Salvation Army, throw a nickel in the drum, and save another drunken bum.” Personally, I don’t carry nickels, but there are plenty of desire chips.

        2. Carl Elfstrom says:

          A better saying that’s straight to the point is “Faith without works is dead.” Some people may think they were saved by spouting off a certain prayer, but what was in their hearts and minds while saying it. That’s why I like it better in Wicca, as traditionally it takes a year and a day of training to be initiated. And initiation means, to begin. They should start having such a training program for all wanna-be Christians, for a lot of the ones who think they are saved don’t even know what it means.

          1. Carl Elfstrom says:

            And beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m not even a Christian, and haven’t tried to be one in very many years, but can throw in something from the Bible better than Bob Fleutsch, when it applies.

    3. Barry says:

      Totally agree.Looong history of abuse and corruption.

    4. Pat Neary says:

      I understand, too fully, how some Roman Catholic priests take sexual liberties with others! I was a victim, too! I was unknowingly drugged, for a cold, and woke up in a very unwelcomed, and compromising, position! I am a ULC minister, now!

    5. Fay Fleming says:

      Have to agree with you

  2. Willow says:

    Priests who abuse children should be treated just like any disgusting criminal and thrown out of the church! Then some things need to change in the catholic religion….allow priests to get married and date and hold full time jobs! Maybe if they are getting sex from their wives and working other jobs they’d be to tired to molest children!!!! Absolutely disgusting!

    1. Don says:

      Pedophiles don’t stop being pedophiles. Thinking that allowing a pedophile to get married will fix the problem is narrow minded at best. The Church has KNOWN about these child predators since the 11th century (at least).

    2. Minister Post says:

      Rev: 19 – 11,12,13, 17,18. They will pay for their crimes against our children. Also the deceit of God’s word and their blasphemy of the word of God .

      1. Don says:

        God’s word is FULL of deceit. And blasphemy is a victimless crime.
        Let’s worry about abused children that actually exist and stop worrying about a cosmic being that may not.

  3. Tom says:

    It’s time to put an end to all MYTHS and the “beliefs” that go with them. Teach ethics and responsibility instead. As long as people believe that an outside force is causing their problems they will always blame others for their shortcomings. Philosophies and religions have been around since man became reflective. Hindus, Jews, Confucians, among others, have never achieved peace or harmony through thousands of years of prayer and meditations. Religion has just two reasons for existence. First it allows a small number of people, male or female, to control large groups. Second, it is a money maker for some. Stop the madness!

  4. John Owens says:

    I predict this behavior will continue. I guess everyone knows that it will. The church controlled the history books until the last 3 or 4 hundred years, and still has an influence, but I feel this kind of thing has been going on since about 329AD. THESE are the people who should be burned at the stake, after going through every torture of the Inquisition.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      As usual, I agree with John Owens. It sounds like karmic retribution to this Witch. What goes around comes around. Everything must be balanced. And may I throw a match into the fire that burns the church that condemned the Craft of the Wise, and burned us tied to stakes in past lives.

      1. Casey says:

        As a Christian with a Celt background, I will add the match from me as well. Let the abusers burn on the same stakes some of my ancestors did, drawn from the oaks where they fled as the army of the cross purged them as heathens and demons.

  5. Kirk says:

    I’m trying to figure out why abuses in other religions and the public schools haven’t been investigated. Chicago schools have had way more allegations than the Catholic dioceses in Illinois, or any other state. The report is deceitful in that it just make a lot of allegations like the Church refused to investigate cases. If the civil authorities are already investigating an allegation, the church doesn’t need to investigate! They left a lot of “little” details like this out. Lefty-loonies like this attorney general are trying to take down Catholics, then they will come after everyone else.

    1. Don says:

      I’m trying to figure out why Kirk is so adamant about defending an organization that has been molesting children (and protecting the rapists) for centuries…

    2. Don says:

      “Lefty-loonies” and a terminal case of WhatAboutIsm. Typical sleaze defense. It’s getting old.
      How many pedophile-defending posts does someone have to make before they are banned (or at least have the site admins report the issue to law enforcement)??

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        They could be investigating him right now, Don, but don’t expect them to mention it. Someday he might suddenly disappear, like another Bob Fleutsch, without a trace

    3. Casey says:

      So you’re defending the church not investigating sexual predators?

    4. Doug says:

      The scandal looks worse because Catholic priests are supposed to be celibate. Abuse from non-celibate is bad enough, but once a religious has taken a vow of celibacy, the crime looks so much worse. Those guilty of abuse should be laicized. And those who covered up the abuse should be severely sanctioned. I look forward to the day when all those guilty have been purged from the Catholic Church. Of course, all those guilty of abuse should be prosecuted.

  6. Ben says:

    It’s time to ban Christianity.

    1. Kirk says:

      Because of some bad apples? Which religion do you want banned next? Islam? Oh no, that’s popular with the anti-Christian lefties right now even though there are more pedophiles and rapists in Islam than there are in any other religion. I challenge you to go to the Middle East and North Africa (not the tourist spots) right now! If you make it out, you’ll hug the first Christian you see.

      1. Don says:

        More ‘whataboutism’ from Kirk.
        “My cult is bad, but there’s a worse one out there, so look the other way”
        Just pathetic.

        1. Kirk says:

          Not a cult Don. Maybe your pathetic mind should try a dictionary before using terms you think make you sound smart! Yes the Catholic Church has had problems with scumbags just like every other institution. This attorney general is targeting one institution and leaving others with more offenders alone. That’s a problem! Pull your head out!

          1. Don says:

            “Just like every other institution”

            Name another institution with over 1400 years of accepted child molestation.
            (and you can’t say Islam as it hasn’t been around that long)
            Failing that, go spew your sleazy lies somewhere else.

          2. Don says:

            “your pathetic mind”
            “pull your head out”

            And THIS is the clown that accuses me of making “nasty posts”.

            Hypocrites suck.

          3. Don says:

            Try and educate yourself, Kirk, before making more ignorant posts. Thank you.
            Your religion is a cult. Sorry if you don’t like the fact that words have meanings.

            cult
            /kəlt/
            noun

            noun: cult; plural noun: cults

            a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
            “the cult of St. Olaf”

            •a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
            “a network of Satan-worshiping cults”

            synonyms: sect, denomination, group, movement, church, persuasion, body, faction
            “a religious cult”

            •a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
            “a cult of personality surrounding the leaders”

            synonyms: obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for, idolization of, devotion to, worship of, veneration of
            “the cult of eternal youth in Hollywood”

      2. Lea says:

        Kirk…You need to educate yourself and try to sit with people that don’t think like you. Maybe then you can gain some reason and compassion. Try going to a Unitarian Universalist church. A church that anyone can go to..You may sit next to a Satanist..Atheist..Wiccan…Metta

  7. Lea says:

    When you marry outside your religion…or you question the church..Or you just have an open mind to knowledge. Because of this you lose your family and friends..Its a cult!! The Catholic church/any Christian church has done this for years.
    As soon as the church has criminal charges pending??? They blame Satan..The thing is they are the evil source.

    Religion is just someone’s idea that is force on people to survive!!
    Spiritualism is a path to knowledge and taking responsibility for ones self personal happyiness..A personal quest.

    Religion is selfish..You have to think like me because this makes me happy.

    Spiritualism..its not all about me. We are all in this together and work for the common good for all.

    Everyone have a good Holiday..Metta

  8. Lea says:

    Its time to ban all religions. Its not a healthy mind set… It has destroyed lives and cultures..We need a different view point on the word GOD…Good orderly direction…Gifts of Darma…etc…Not Jesus take the wheel.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      If you think it’s bad now Lea, wait ’til the year 2525. That’s a good song, but I hope I’m in between lives when it gets here. I’ll look forward to seeing you in the Summer land then too. After this life I think it might take even longer to recuperate. Of course, there are other worlds that need enlightened souls, and I am very much tempted to consider that option .

  9. Kirk says:

    Is Don the moderator? He makes a lot of nasty posts, but none of my responses are getting posted!?!

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Some things and people are liked better than others. Some people find it harder to accept life on its own terms too, and realize when they are saying things in their current social circle that don’t resonate with what is trying to be accomplished, and it’s time for that individual to shape up or ship out, like some of the rest of us have done. In so doing we minister to each other, and learn better ways of ministering.

    2. Don says:

      “He makes a lot of nasty posts”

      Another lie from the spineless spewer. Quote one “nasty post” from me that wasn’t a response to something vile that you or another hateful ignoramus said.

      I’ll wait…

    3. Don says:

      Trust me, Kirk – if I was a moderator, your vile hate would have already been banned, and I would have forwarded your IP address to law enforcement. Turns out they are very interested in people who defend child molestation, because they are usually culprits themselves.

      Toodles!

  10. Casey says:

    I’m deeply saddened by this. My church was one of the ones affected, way back when- it was revealed after I graduated that the pastor had been accused credibly of molesting children in the 1970s. He was moved and ended up in a grade school. The diocese didn’t do anything until 2005 when they finally got around to defrocking him- by then he’d served as pastor of a grade school for a decade.

    My high school did it right, as far as I’m concerned. A priest was accused, and the Order said simply he had a choice. He could turn himself in to the cops, or they would turn him in. There was no shelter for him at all. From accusation to the date he was going to be turned over was less than a month. He ended up hanging himself before the date specified.

    1. R.V.W. Robert Walters says:

      Once more, I’m disgusted with the type of nasty postings. Those postings tell us that we who were ordained in the manner we were, are not part of a necessarily intelligent group. RVW

  11. Megan says:

    Dioceses are adopting a corporate model and are now filing bankruptcy to protect themselves against the anticipated large financial judgements as these cases move through the court system.

    My mother worked for the Catholic church and talked about this issue 40 years ago.
    The Church knew about the abuse and supported and protected the abusers, and they continue to do so.

    Bishops are meeting this week to pray about this issue which is just another indication the Catholic Church is continuing business as usual. The rot runs deep in the Catholic Church, and the members of the Church hierarchy have made it abundantly clear they have neither the tools nor the will to address this issue.

    They should be designated mandatory reporters and should be required to notify law enforcement when a priest is accused of committing a crime. Those that participated in covering up these atrocities are as guilty as the perpetrators.

    Catholics, speak up, stop attending church, stop financial support, demand this issue be resolved, and demand that victims be compensated, and perpetrators be brought to justice.

  12. oldaabill says:

    Sexual abuse is not a religious right. It’s a crime. If it involves a minor, it’s a crime even if the minor consents. The law has an obligation to investigate church abuse. Abuse is not protected by the 1st Amendment.

  13. Sharon says:

    We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I used to be Roman Catholic but left it long ago. It is a crime what the Roman Catholic Church and those priests are doing. The Patriarchy of the Roman Catholic Church (Established Religion) is in fact I believe Evil. It is the darkest of the dark. There is nothing Christ – like or God – like about the Abuse the priests have submitted these Children to. And the Chain of Command just hiding it and moving them around…it makes my stomach turn. Yes, the Church should be investigated and yes the priests and those that covered it all up should be punished. The members of the Catholic Church who do nothing and do not believe this happened are complicit in the cover-ups. Without members there wouldn’t be a Catholic Church. The members who believe in God and Jesus as compassionate beings have a duty to live their lives in the Truth of their Religious Belief. It is in honesty and integrity for the followers/believers of God/Jesus to denounce what goes on and fight for the Truth to be revealed and those brought to Justice.

  14. Lisa Cruse says:

    Catholic abuse is horrific, but let’s not neglect the Protestants. Having worked with the topic of clergy abuse there is no shortage in any religion

  15. Secretary3rd says:

    Gave anyone power and it gets out of hand. There in the most religious texts are words that while man serves God, women are expected to serve man. When you make someone or give someone power over others then what do expect they will do. Some will find that they will do as they please and no one can anything about it.
    Catholic priest can wield that power, but as it has happen on a few occasions the person attack, attacks back. Usually by hitting with a baseball bat.

  16. Fay Fleming says:

    I have custody of my granddaughter ,as she was raped, sodomized and threatened that if she told she would be killed and so would her mother and brothers. She was 7 years old at the time. So guess what I do not trust anyone that goes double for anyone involved in the catholic church. I think the death penalty should be applied to anyone who hurts a child in this sort of way. I know a lot will disagree with me, but you don’t hear the torched cries at night from a little girl like I do. How can anyone ever believe or trust in an organization that covers this sort of thing up.

  17. David says:

    So remind me again… Why are churches not taxed? At least to pay for the investigations, legal fees, and medical care for their victims?.

Leave a Comment