Calls Mount for Chicago-Area Religious Orders to Publish Lists of Members Credibly Accused of Abuse

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago in 2018 requested that religious orders active in his local Church release lists of members credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Chicago's skyline.
Chicago's skyline. (photo: Unsplash)

CHICAGO, Ill. — Recent reporting from the Chicago Sun-Times has highlighted several religious orders active in Chicago that have not yet released lists of members credibly accused of sexual abuse, despite the archbishop’s request that they do so. 

Two of those religious orders told CNA that they are in the process of compiling lists, and are considering how to make them public in a manner that respects both victims and clerics who have died. 

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago in 2018 requested that religious orders active in his local Church release lists of members credibly accused of sexual abuse. 

While a religious order needs permission from a local bishop to engage in public ministry, an order’s members are governed by its religious superior. Nevertheless, the Sun-Times notes that the adjacent dioceses of Joliet and Rockford list on their websites religious clerics who are credibly accused of abuse and who are or were active in those dioceses. 

In February, a Chicago archdiocesan spokesman told WTTW News: “We have been in discussions with religious orders about how their members, under their jurisdiction and control, who are credibly accused, are to be publicly listed,” adding that they anticipate the matter will be resolved “soon.”

Some orders active in the Chicago archdiocese, such as the Carmelites, have made lists of members credibly accused of abuse public. Others active in the archdiocese, such as the Augustinians and the Passionists, have not.

Dominican Father Donald Goergen, Provincial Vicar for the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great, told CNA that while the province has not yet published a list of members who have been credibly accused, “we have never made a decision not to publish such a list.”

“We have been working for some time on the process in order that we might make the best decisions possible,” Fr. Goergen said in an email to CNA. 

Father Anthony Pizzo, Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, told CNA in a statement that the province is “undergoing a process to ascertain whether to publish a public list.”

“The process to yield the public names must be reliable and fair to all involved, including those Augustinians who may now be dead and to those survivors of abuse who seek to maintain their peace,” Father Pizzo said. 

“What must be made clear is that all living Augustinians with established allegations of abuse are not in public ministry and are subject to rigorous safety plans.” 

The Missionaries of the Divine Word, which is based in Chicago, say they are in the process of compiling a list, while the Passionists told the Sun-Times they are “considering” publishing a list. The Passionists did not respond to CNA’s requests for further information.

The Archdiocese of Chicago also did not respond to CNA’s requests for information on this matter.

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