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IL AG report blasts Springfield diocese for response to child sex abuse

IL AG report blasts Springfield diocese for response to child sex abuse

11 months, 3 weeks ago by Scott Hardy

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has released a report detailing decades of child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Illinois, and which says that the leadership of the Diocese of Springfield failed victims. 

The report, released Tuesday, wraps up a multi-year investigation into child sex abuse by members of the clergy in all six Catholic dioceses in Illinois. The AG's report reveals names and detailed information of 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused just under 2 thousand children across all of the dioceses in Illinois. In a report on the Diocese of Springfield, the report says the Diocese’s handling of child sex abuse allegations is "a story of failed leadership—leadership that allowed clerics to sexually abuse children in the diocese for decades".

The report specifically blames Bishops William O’Connor, Joseph McNicholas and Daniel Ryan, who were in charge from 1949 to 1999. It also gives the history of priests known to have been abusers, including Father Aloysius Schwellenbach, who led two different parishes in Quincy in the 1940's and 50's and then again in the 1970's and 80's, Father Walter Weerts, who led two Adams County churches in the 1980's and former Father Kevin Downey, a Franciscan at Quincy University in the 1990's.

The report also blasts current Bishop Thomas Paprocki for the dioceses's slow response to the scandal, saying the Springfield diocese was the last to publish a list of priests who were confirmed to be child sex abusers, and only after pressure from the Attorney General's office. The report also says that the list is not on the diocese's main web page, and that it does not include each cleric’s parish assignments. The report says that the diocese is the only one in the state to leave that information out. The report concludes by saying "the Diocese of Springfield has yet to reconcile itself with its past".

 

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