The Catholic Church in Illinois withheld the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexually abusing children, while nearly 75% of allegations were either not investigated or investigated but not substantiated, according to a scathing report from the state's attorney general. Claims involving just one victim were often found to be not credible, even when the victim was believable, while claims against deceased and reassigned priests, and those in a religious order (like the Jesuits), weren't investigated at all, AG Lisa Madigan writes in the nine-page preliminary report out Wednesday, based on files turned over by Illinois' six dioceses, per CNN. The report doesn't name priests or officials suspected of negligence, but it concludes the dioceses of Chicago, Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield are "incapable of investigating themselves," as the New York Times puts it.
They "will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own," having previously discredited claims by "focusing on the survivors' personal lives," reads the report. It reveals a "shocking" number of hidden names, Madigan tells the Times. She leaves her post in January with a promise from her successor to keep up the investigation launched in August. Only 185 of 690 accused priests were publicly identified by the church as facing credible allegations. "I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse," says Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago and an ally of Pope Francis. "It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history." (Similar investigations are underway in numerous states, including New York.)