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Prominent attorney wants full list of problem religious order priests in Illinois made public

Jeff Anderson says the Archdiocese of Chicago has released the names of only two such priests. Anderson said there are more than 100.

Attorney Jeff Anderson speaks during a 2018 news conference about predator priests.
Attorney Jeff Anderson on Thursday demanded that Illinois bishops make public the full list of religious order priests with credible child sex abuse accusations against them.
Sun-Times file photo

A prominent attorney is calling on bishops across Illinois to end the “dangerous deceit” and release a full list of religious order priests with credible sexual abuse accusations against them.

“Catholic bishops in Illinois have been hiding the names, the identities of religious order priests who have been publicly accused of child sexual abuse,” attorney Jeff Anderson said in an online news conference Thursday.

Anderson made public the identities of 175 priests, including 117 who previously worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago. But Anderson said the archdiocese has released the names of only two of those problem priests.

“It raises the question: How many more kids are going to get hurt because of the non-disclosure?” he said.

The names made public Thursday come from lawsuits as well as lists compiled by the religious orders themselves, among other sources, Anderson said.

The Chicago archdiocese declined to comment on Anderson’s demand.

Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information about their members who now face or have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.

But in a series of stories over the past few months, the Chicago Sun-Times has shown the disparity in how different church institutions publicly reveal credibly accused clerics. Some religious orders publicly list them, while others don’t. The Archdiocese of Chicago, which grants the orders permission to operate within its jurisdiction, has refused to say what it knows about predatory religious order clergy.

Reformers and even some church leaders say that such lists are crucial in helping the public not only understand the scope of child sex abuse that first exploded into public consciousness in 1980s but also helps facilitate healing for those who have been molested.

Religious orders have their own leaders and operate relatively freely within the dioceses, though they need permission from the local bishop, such as Cupich, if they engage in public ministry in a parish, at a school or hospital or in some other charitable endeavor.