Skip to Content

The Diocese’s History of Handling Claims of Child Sex Abuse by Clerics

On February 2, 2006, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s independent professional fitness review board gathered for a regular meeting. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s creation of the board in the early 1990s had reflected a significant step forward in addressing child sex abuse by clerics. Among the first of its kind, the board was largely comprised of laypeople. Its task was to evaluate allegations of child sex abuse by diocesan clerics, determine whether such claims were substantiated, and make recommendations to the cardinal on next steps. But on this particular day in 2006, there would be no evaluation of child sex abuse claims. Instead, the board received a history lesson.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki gave the presentation. Paprocki was then an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese who had formerly served as both its chancellor (from 1992 to 2000) and the cardinal’s delegate to the review board (from 1992 to 2003). In a few years’ time, he would be promoted again—this time to become the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield. Given his extensive involvement with the review board since its inception, Paprocki was quite familiar with the archdiocese’s handling of abuse claims.

According to notes from the meeting, Paprocki explained the archdiocese’s historical approaches to handling child sex abuse allegations. Paprocki distinguished between four time periods, each with a distinct model for handling abuse claims:

Pre-1960: Confessional model

1960s-1992: Therapeutic model (return to ministry/reassignment)

1992-2002: Therapeutic model (restricted ministry/monitoring)

2002-present: Legal/canonical model

The notes of the review board’s meeting that day do not contain the substance of Paprocki’s presentation. However, the models he introduced offer a useful lens for exploring the archdiocese’s history in handling child sex abuse claims. They also demonstrate that the archdiocese was relatively early, when compared to the rest of the nation, in recognizing and addressing the church’s child sex abuse crisis. Even so, its leaders made glaring missteps along the way, and serial predators were at times given ample opportunity to abuse well beyond the time they should have been removed from ministry.

Wacker Drive in Chicago, IllinoisWacker Drive - Chicago, Illinois

Pre-1960: The Confessional Model

 Confession, also known as reconciliation, is the Catholic sacrament by which a person both acknowledges, and asks forgiveness for, their sins. It is a private sacrament. A person who wishes to confess meets alone with a priest, sometimes with a screen separating them to protect the confessor’s identity. The person confesses their sins to the priest, expresses sincere sorrow for them, and asks forgiveness; the priest listens, offers a penance to perform (such as prayer or good works), and can absolve the person of his or her sins.

A critical element of the sacrament is the “seal of confession,” a term used to describe secrecy. Specifically, a priest hearing confession must maintain absolute secrecy about everything he is told. Under the teachings of the Catholic faith, a priest cannot break the sacramental seal for any reason, even to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity. A priest who violates the seal of confession can be penalized by excommunication from the church. This provides critical context for Paprocki’s discussion of the “confessional model,” which the archdiocese used to address claims of child sex abuse by clerics that the church received prior to the 1960s. Under the inviolable seal of the sacrament, a cleric who had sexually abused a child might have confessed his crimes to another priest, who could both forgive the abuser of his sin and decline to discuss his crimes with anyone, under penalty of excommunication. But, as Paprocki outlined, the confessional model was giving way to a different way of responding to child sex abuse allegations.

1960s-1992: Therapeutic Model – Return to Ministry/Reassignment

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the archdiocese began to receive notice of more allegations of child sex abuse by its clerics. While the exact reason is unknown, the handling of these claims shifted to what Bishop Paprocki termed a “therapeutic model,” with an end goal of returning the accused cleric to ministry. Essentially, when the archdiocese received an allegation against a cleric, it required him to submit to a professional psychiatric evaluation and, if warranted, treatment. Once the cleric was deemed rehabilitated (with the need for ongoing treatment a possibility), the cleric was placed back into ministry, nearly always at a parish different from the one where the alleged abuse occurred.

In 1983, in the middle of the therapeutic model period, Cardinal Bernardin established the vicar for priests’ office to serve as a pastor for diocesan priests. Child sex abuse allegations against priests were also shuttled to this office, although the vicar lacked any training for handling such claims. The vicar therefore sought the input of experts in psychology and law, and eventually the archdiocese established an advisory committee to assist the vicar. The vicar would investigate allegations as they came in, and help accused clerics get professional diagnoses and treatment if an allegation was proven. A priest could be returned to ministry, usually in a new parish, based in part on therapists’ reports of progress. But often, key officials in the new parish were not told about the priest’s history of child sex abuse.

Although the archdiocese was relying on the advice of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in determining whether accused clerics were fit to return to ministry, the practice of returning these individuals to a parish was still problematic. One major problem of the “therapeutic model” was recidivism, or the possibility that the cleric would abuse again.

The following chart shows that numerous clerics against whom the archdiocese first received an abuse allegation between 1960 and June 1992 were also the subjects of additional claims of abuse after the first notice. Almost two decades after this time period, Cardinal Francis George, in a 2008 deposition in a civil lawsuit relating to child sex abuse by clerics, acknowledged the risk of reoffending, calling the recidivism rate “unacceptable.”

Archdiocesan Substantiated Clerics, First Notice and Possible Recidivism 1960 - June 1992


Date of First Notice

Possible Recidivism[1]

Baranowski, Alexander Sylvester

August 1963


Braun, David Francis

November 1963


Owens, Joseph

February 1968


Skriba, Raymond Francis

January 1970


Cloutier, William J.

June 1979


Friese, Robert

August 1980


McCaffrey, Vincent

November 1980


Mayer, Robert E.

April 1982


Bogdan, Leonard Adolph

April 1983


Job, Thomas

November 1983


Przybylo, Czeslaw (extern)

June 1984


Buck, Daniel Peter

July 1984


Snieg, Marion Joseph

December 1984


Romano, Russell Lawrence

April 1985


Becker, Robert Charles

February 1986


Hogan, Michael J.

February 1986


Holihan, Daniel Mark

July 1986


Fitzharris, Joseph L.

November 1986


Ruge, Kenneth Charles

November 1986


McDonald, Robert Joseph

December 1986


Hagan, James Craig

May 1988


Kissane, Joseph Patrick

June 1989


Ray, James M.

April 1990


Curran, John William

June 1990


Maday, Norbert J.

July 1990


Craig, Robert

September 1990


Stewart, Victor E.

October 1990


Burke, Edmund F.

October 1991


Flosi, James Vincent

October 1991


Dilla, Francis Emil

November 1991


Huske, Leonard

November 1991


Musloff, Donald John

March 1992


 In the case of Father Raymond Francis Skriba, after allegations that he had abused multiple teenage girls surfaced in January 1970, a church official simply recommended that Skriba be moved from his parish. This occurred despite Skriba’s admitting to the abuse. Skriba went on to allegedly abuse or act inappropriately toward at least three more children. He remained in ministry until January 2003.

Father Vincent McCaffrey was also allowed to remain in ministry despite the archdiocese’s knowledge of potential wrongdoing. In 1989, responding to an anonymous report that McCaffrey was abusing boys, the vicar for priests acknowledged to Cardinal Bernardin that McCaffrey was a “pedophile.” However, the vicar recommended that McCaffrey be moved to another parish, lamenting, the “sad thing is that this threat will hang over Vince until the day he dies.” McCaffrey would not resign until 1993.

Other examples abound. In the early 1970s, the principal of the parish school at Saint John Vianney “begged” archdiocesan officials to protect children from abuser Father Thomas Job. No one listened. The archdiocese quietly transferred Job to another parish in 1975 after he was arrested for allegedly abusing a boy. In 1986, despite evidence that Father Daniel Holihan was abusing multiple children, the vicar for priests simply advised him to stop taking children to his cottage. Holihan continued to abuse children.

But the handling of allegations against one particular abuser would ultimately bring about a significant change in the archdiocese’s procedures. In 1981, a school official at Saint Edna, where Father Robert Mayer was an associate pastor, received word that Mayer removed his clothes while socializing with children and provided them with drugs and alcohol. Despite a letter from Saint Edna staff to Cardinal Cody in 1982 outlining further inappropriate behavior by Mayer, including sexual advances towards a teenager, providing alcohol to children, and more indecent exposure, Mayer was not immediately transferred. A September 1982 memo to Mayer’s file noted that if Mayer was in fact transferred, “it must be construed that he personally requested the transfer.”

In 1983, the archdiocese transferred Mayer to another parish, Saint Stephen, and also settled a lawsuit involving allegations of sex abuse of at least one child by Mayer in 1984. Mayer remained in ministry, and was investigated by police in 1987 for alleged oral sexual contact with a child. Cardinal Bernardin simply signed an agreement with Mayer mandating Mayer avoid unsupervised contact with anyone under 21, transferred Mayer again, this time to Saint Dionysius in 1990, and made him pastor of Saint Odilo that same year. A draft of a memo containing a message that Cardinal Bernardin was to deliver to Mayer in 1991 noted that Mayer had “repeatedly been the subject of sexual impropriety, and yet [had] refused to modify [his] behavior.” Mayer was indicted by a grand jury in 1991 for aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child and eventually served prison time.

What followed was Cardinal Bernardin’s creation of the 1992 commission, which would be tasked with examining how the archdiocese handled child sex abuse claims. The commission reflected:

In the past, many people considered the sexual abuse of minors primarily as a problem of immorality. If the abuser repented and made a firm commitment to amend his life, it was assumed that he would be able to control his sexual appetite in the future. After doing such, a priest who had sexually abused children was assigned to a different parish, or sent to another diocese, and the bishop or religious superior hoped that the priest had learned his lesson.

Along these lines, Bishop Paprocki noted in a June 2019 speech at the University of Oxford that prior to 1992, clerics with substantiated allegations of abuse would “simply be reassigned with the naïve expectation that they would somehow refrain from relapsing into abusive behavior.” The 1992 commission further explained that “[t]here was inadequate awareness of the severity of the impact of the abuse on victims and the inability of available therapy to cure the abusers.”

Recommendations from that commission would serve as the foundation for how the archdiocese would handle abuse allegations to the present day.

Wabash under the L in Chicago, IllinoisWabash under the L - Chicago, Illinois

1992-2002: Therapeutic Model – Restricted Ministry/Monitoring

On October 25, 1991, Cardinal Bernardin sent a letter to local Catholics acknowledging the archdiocese had made mistakes in its efforts to prevent child sex abuse, and committing not to repeat those mistakes. To that end, the cardinal wrote, he had appointed a review commission to examine, and provide recommendations as to, church policy in a number of areas: clergy assignments that might put people at risk; existing archdiocese policies and procedures relative to sexual misconduct by clergy or church personnel, with special attention on child sex abuse; the circumstances under which an accused cleric could engage in parish ministry; and recommendations on incorporating laypeople into the archdiocese’s review process.

The commission delivered its report and recommendations in June 1992. Among the most important recommendations was the creation of a permanent independent review board to aid in the evaluation of alleged child sex abuse by clerics. The commission recommended that the board be comprised of nine people: three lay professionals (a psychiatrist, a psychologist or social worker with relevant experience, and an attorney); three priests (including one in parish ministry); and three representatives of the church-at-large (including a parent, a victim of child sex abuse or a parent of a victim, and a church council member). The lay review board members would not be employees of the diocese. The review board would receive and review evidence, deliberate, and make recommendations to the cardinal on how to proceed in child sex abuse cases. The cardinal would then make the final decision. The cardinal or the cardinal’s delegate could attend review board meetings, but could not vote or act as the chair of the group. The commission also recommended the hiring of a lay professional case manager, to whom the vicar for priests would transfer the files relating to alleged child sex abuse.

The commission also proposed procedures for the handling, investigation, and evaluation of abuse claims. It put much of the investigatory work in the hands of the case manager, and broke the investigative process into two stages. The first stage focused on determining whether the accused cleric should be in a ministerial position with access to children. The commission did not recommend automatic removal of a cleric from ministry upon receipt of an allegation. In the first stage, the case manager would collect records, conduct interviews, and prepare a report for the review board. The review board would then meet to determine, based on the case manager’s initial investigation, whether there was probable cause for believing the allegation. If the board determined no probable cause, it could close the case or impose restrictions if appropriate. If the board determined there was probable cause, it could recommend placing the cleric on administrative leave with pay pending a second stage investigation (unless the cleric admitted guilt, which would negate the need for additional investigation).

During the second stage of the investigation, the accused cleric would be sent for a complete psychiatric and psychological assessment. The case manager could then interview other witnesses and prepare a full written report for the review board’s consideration. The review board would then meet again to review the case manager’s full report. The accused, survivor, survivor’s parents, or other relevant witnesses could appear at the meeting or offer written statements. The board would then vote on whether a preponderance of the evidence supported the allegation (meaning, whether it was more likely than not that the abuse occurred based on the evidence). The board would make recommendations to the cardinal on how to proceed, including possibly restricting the cleric’s access to children, removing the cleric from parochial ministry, laying out conditions for possible return to ministry, and potentially permanently removing the cleric from the priesthood through laicization. The case manager would then notify the survivor of the final decision.

As the cardinal requested, the commission also made several recommendations on clerics’ potential return to ministry after a substantiated allegation of child sex abuse. The commission made clear that any cleric who engages in child sex abuse should not return to any kind of ministry with access to children, and that no exceptions to this rule would be allowed. Before a priest could return to any other kind of ministry, the commission recommended that the priest undergo at least two years of intensive therapy, followed by a four-year supervised aftercare program. Components of the program included a supervisor or monitor for the cleric and ongoing group and individual therapy. Only after a cleric completed such a program, years after an initial diagnosis, would a cleric be eligible for an assignment that did not include access to children. The commission was critical of the archdiocese’s previous approach of sending clerics, such as Mayer, back into ministry without notifying the parishioners of the cleric’s history: “[A]rchdiocesan officials have precluded the right of parents to protect their children by sending these priests back into parishes without notifying the parishioners.”

Chicago skylineStreeterville, Loop and beyond - Chicago, Illinois

Cardinal Bernardin implemented the commission’s recommendations. In doing so, he took the step of creating the independent review board envisioned by the commission. Among the first of its kind, the review board in large part took evaluation of child sex abuse claims out of the archdiocese’s hands, and put it in the hands of a board largely made up of laypeople. The cardinal implemented the commission’s recommendation to have a case manager handle allegations as they came in. The archdiocese also created the Office of Victim Assistance Ministry to provide outreach and support to survivors. Both of those offices still exist today, with the case manager’s office known as the Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review, and the assistance office known as the Office for Assistance Ministry.

Among the first of its kind, the review board in large part took evaluation of child sex abuse claims out of the archdiocese’s hands, and put it in the hands of a board largely made up of laypeople.

Despite the cardinal’s attempt for change, problems persisted. For example, a survivor came forward in October 1992 and accused Father Walter Huppenbauer of abusing her approximately 30 years earlier. At the time, Huppenbauer was the pastor of Saint Thomas of Villanova in Palatine. Because the survivor remained anonymous, the archdiocese decided not to submit the allegation to the newly established review board, and allowed the vicar for priests to handle the matter. In December 1993, over a year after the allegation was received, Cardinal Bernardin asked Huppenbauer to voluntarily resign, which Huppenbauer eventually did. The parishioners of Saint Thomas of Villanova were shocked when they eventually learned in May 2002 of the allegations against Huppenbauer, nearly ten years after they were initially made. The archdiocese had said nothing to them about an accused child sex abuser working in their parish, regardless of the commission’s admonishment against such a practice. The archdiocese has since received additional abuse allegations against Huppenbauer.

In at least one instance, when presented with evidence of a cleric sexually abusing children, the review board inexplicably allowed the cleric to remain in ministry with access to children, despite the commission’s message that therapy could not cure these abusers. In 1993, two survivors accused Father William Lupo of abusing them in the mid-1980s. At that time, the archdiocese was aware of additional allegations against Lupo. Despite reviewing Lupo’s case and determining that there was reasonable cause to suspect that Lupo had abused, the review board did not recommend Lupo be removed from ministry. Instead, it simply recommended a live-in monitor and restrictions. Lupo still met with teenage girls alone in the rectory. In June 1994, another survivor came forward, and the review board again found the allegations credible. Yet the review board still recommended allowing Lupo to remain in ministry, and in 1995 discontinued all restrictions at Lupo’s request. The arrival of 1998 brought about the same story: a survivor came forward accusing Lupo, and the review board allowed him to remain in ministry with restrictions. In October 2001, yet another survivor came forward with allegations against Lupo, but the review board determined it did not have jurisdiction over the allegations since the survivor was not a minor at the time of the abuse. Lupo remained in ministry until 2002. The archdiocese now publicly acknowledges Lupo as having been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

In its report, the commission noted no action was necessary when a child sex abuse allegation was made against a deceased priest because he was no longer a risk to children.

In addition, the archdiocese at times refused to submit allegations levied against deceased clerics to the review board. Such was the case in 1994, when the archdiocese was contacted with allegations of sexual misconduct against Father Dominic Diederich, who had died in 1977. This was the result of a misguided recommendation by the 1992 commission. In its report, the commission noted no action was necessary when a child sex abuse allegation was made against a deceased priest because he was no longer a risk to children. Although the commission admirably prioritized ensuring children’s safety, its approach failed to recognize the need for survivor healing. This could have been accomplished by reviewing allegations made against deceased clerics. It was not until October 2022, under pressure from the Attorney General, that the archdiocese changed its policy; it now reviews new allegations against deceased clerics as it does any other child sex abuse allegation against clerics.  

Moreover, despite the commission’s recommendation that priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children never be placed back into ministry with access to children, the archdiocese sometimes did exactly that. In 1994, two survivors accused Father John Calicott of sexually abusing them when they were children in the 1970s. The board found the allegations credible. Yet approximately 18 months after the allegations surfaced, the archdiocese returned Calicott to ministry as pastor of Holy Angels with certain conditions imposed. Among those conditions was that Calicott was never to be alone with a child without the presence of a “responsible adult.” Calicott remained in ministry with access to children until 2002, when he was removed. After Calicott’s removal, the archdiocese received additional allegations of abuse by Calicott.

Ultimately, the cardinal’s commission made significant recommendations for revamping the archdiocese’s handling of child sex abuse claims. To his credit, Cardinal Bernardin followed the advice of the commission in implementing those recommendations, and as a result, the archdiocese found itself a leader in a new era of handling abuse claims. Yet as the above examples show, the archdiocese did not always faithfully execute its own policies and recommendations.

2002 – Present: Legal/Canonical Model – No Ministry

In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the Dallas Charter in response to a publicly acknowledged crisis relating to child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. The charter set out mandatory policies relating to child sex abuse, to be implemented nationwide. In many ways, it confirmed the wisdom of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s policies in place since 1992. Each diocese was required to have victim outreach programs, something the archdiocese already had in place. Most importantly, though, the Dallas Charter required each diocese to create a review board, mostly comprising laypeople not employed by the diocese, whose role was to assist the bishop or archbishop in assessing allegations of child sex abuse and determining fitness for ministry. The archdiocese had established such a board nearly a decade earlier. The charter did, however, include one significant departure from the archdiocese’s existing practice. It implemented a “one strike and you’re out” policy; clerics credibly accused of sexually abusing children were to be permanently removed from ministry upon a single substantiated act of child sex abuse.

While five survivors provided the basis for the criminal charges against McCormack and his subsequent prison time, archdiocese documents show that McCormack sexually abused vastly more children. Those documents reveal the archdiocese received 104 claims of McCormack sexually abusing children occurring after the archdiocese first received notice in 1999 of his inappropriate conduct with children.

On the heels of its validation for establishing policies central to the Dallas Charter, the archdiocese was forced to confront one of the most notorious child sex abusers in the history of the Catholic church in Illinois—Father Daniel McCormack. Although officials were aware of potential abuse by McCormack as early as his seminary days in the 1980s, he was nonetheless ordained a diocesan priest in Chicago and placed in ministry. In 1999, in response to an allegation that McCormack had sexually abused a boy, a school official advised the nun who reported the allegation that “[i]f the parents aren’t pushing it, let it go.” McCormack remained in ministry.

After implementation of the Dallas Charter in 2002, allegations against McCormack continued to mount. In 2003, the grandmother of an alleged abuse survivor contacted the archdiocese to complain about McCormack. The archdiocese did not investigate the complaint. In August 2005, McCormack was arrested for sexually abusing a child, released without charges, and left in ministry by the archdiocese. Rather than removing McCormack, the archdiocese attempted to implement restrictions, such as requiring another priest to monitor him and forbidding him from being alone with children. But the archdiocese did not explain to the monitor the purpose of his assignment, and McCormack ignored the restrictions. Months later, in October 2005, the review board recommended McCormack be removed from ministry. Cardinal George took no action.

Finally, McCormack was arrested in January 2006 and charged with sexually abusing five boys between 8 and 12 years old. McCormack pleaded guilty to all of the charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. While five survivors provided the basis for the criminal charges against McCormack and his subsequent prison time, archdiocese documents show that McCormack sexually abused vastly more children. Those documents reveal the archdiocese received 104 claims of McCormack sexually abusing children occurring after the archdiocese first received notice in 1999 of his inappropriate conduct with children. The review board rebuked Cardinal George for his inaction, despite its October 2005 recommendation, writing members were “extremely dismayed” that the cardinal “chose not to act” on the board’s recommendation. For his part, Cardinal George later testified that “I am very dismayed myself. This is terrible that more precipitous action was not taken so I share that concern.” Cardinal George also admitted to knowing of children that McCormack abused after the cardinal chose to leave McCormack in ministry.

In response to the gross mishandling of the claims against McCormack, in 2006 the archdiocese hired an outside organization to conduct an audit of archdiocesan policies and procedures. The auditors, Defenbaugh & Associates, found a “total breakdown in communication amongst the archdiocesan staff assigned to react to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.” The auditors also found that while the archdiocese had policies and procedures in place to respond to child sex abuse allegations, it did not comply with those policies, and did not follow the “basic spirit of their own established guidelines.” The audit further noted that archdiocesan staff “did not know or have forgotten what actions to take” when receiving a child sex abuse allegation.

Chicago skylineOpening the Chicago River locks - Chicago, Illinois

With respect to McCormack, the auditors identified failures in monitoring McCormack after his August 2005 arrest, which allowed him further access to children. The audit also identified the failure to investigate the 2003 allegation, admonishing the archdiocese for the excuse that the complainant wished to remain anonymous. And the auditors criticized the archdiocese for failing to ensure Cardinal George had all the information necessary to make a decision to remove McCormack from ministry. As one example, archdiocesan officials delayed reporting McCormack’s August 2005 arrest to Cardinal George for nearly three days.

In addition to the Defenbaugh & Associates audit, in 2006 the archdiocese enlisted a specialist in sex offender supervision and management, Terry Childers, to evaluate its monitoring of clerics removed from ministry because of allegations of child sexual abuse. Childers wrote:

An effective monitoring system geared toward reducing the further sexual victimization perpetrated by accused priest abusers does not exist. Instead, there exists an “honor system” wherein the accused priest abusers are presumed to be truthful, live in relative anonymity in unrestricted environments, enjoy unlimited and unrestricted movement, and suffer little if any consequences for failing to comply with Archdiocesan monitoring protocols. The monitoring that is currently being done is based exclusively on the self-reported activities of the accused priest abusers. There are few attempts to corroborate or verify any information provided by the abusers.

Childers highlighted a number of areas in which monitoring of accused clerics fell short, including the lack of information provided to monitors, inconsistent completion of daily activity logs, issues in implementing travel policies, shortcomings of the residential areas in which accused clerics lived, and inconsistent participation in therapy. Childers wrote:

In this current “honor” system, the accused priest abusers are essentially self-monitored. They may choose whether or not to be in treatment, choose the type of treatment, choose the treatment provider, choose when, where, and with whom they travel, choose where they work and choose what to report on their daily logs. They may be required to reside at particular sites, but even there they have unrestricted movement with no curfew restrictions. This current “honor” system of monitoring allows the accused priest abusers to remain relatively anonymous. Sex offenders strive for and thrive on anonymity. It is anonymity that allows them to offend against many victims, and offend over very long periods of time.

Childers warned that without effective monitoring, an accused cleric could abuse again.

In the wake of the experts’ reports, the archdiocese announced that in order to ensure the protection of children it was voluntarily releasing the names of all living priests against whom substantiated claims of child sex abuse had been made since 1950. This step, while significant, offered no solace to survivors abused by clerics who were deceased. Before the Attorney General began investigating, the archdiocese did not send allegations made against deceased clerics to its review board. Those policies have been reformed as a result of the Attorney General’s investigation, with the archdiocese now investigating new claims against deceased clerics in the same manner as other claims. Similarly, prior to the Attorney General’s investigation, the archdiocese published the names of credibly accused religious order clerics who ministered within the archdiocese in only the extraordinary circumstance where the archdiocese, rather than the order, investigated and determined the claim. That policy too has changed as a result of the Attorney General’s investigation, with the archdiocese now including on its list of substantiated clerics those who “served in an Archdiocesan ministry and have been identified by their respective orders as having substantiated or credible allegations of child sexual abuse made against them, as determined by the religious order.” The Attorney General noted when the changed policy was announced in October 2022 that “I am proud that our investigation has resulted in the Archdiocese ending decades of policies that allowed substantiated child sex abusers to remain in the shadows – and is instead taking significant steps toward accountability – to survivors, families and parishioners.”  

The Attorney General noted when the changed policy was announced in October 2022 that “I am proud that our investigation has resulted in the Archdiocese ending decades of policies that allowed substantiated child sex abusers to remain in the shadows – and is instead taking significant steps toward accountability – to survivors, families and parishioners.”  


The Archdiocese of Chicago has done much to improve its handling of child sex abuse claims against Catholic clerics over the past 30 years. The archdiocese revamped its policies and consistently looked forward (and inward) to improve both those policies and the implementation of them. This report, and the recommendations for further reforms contained in it, challenge the Archdiocese of Chicago to do so again—to look forward (and inward), and work to protect children from future abuse and to bring compassion and healing to those suffering from past abuse.

  1. “Yes” indicates that the Archdiocese identified claims of alleged abuse that post-date the first notice date. “No” indicates that the Archdiocese identified no claims of alleged abuse that post-date the first notice date. “Unknown” indicates that the dates of claims of alleged abuse provided by the Archdiocese are not specific enough to determine whether the alleged abuse occurred before or after the first notice date.

Back to Top

Scroll of Abusive Clerics/Brothers | Archdiocese of Chicago



Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms, unless denoted with *.

Altar server
Individuals, usually children, who assist clerics during liturgical functions such as mass. Prior to 1994, only men and boys were permitted to be altar servers.*
The title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. It is also given to certain other high-ranking church officials.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. It is governed by an archbishop.
Auxiliary Bishop
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist its residential bishop.
The highest order of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. The chief priests in their respective dioceses. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. All bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the church.
A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from ordained members of religious orders.
Canon Law

A code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.

Highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope. Cardinals are regarded as the pope's closest advisors. Most cardinals are archbishops.
The chief archivist of a diocese's official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocese’s central administration.
Clergy is a collective term referring to all those ordained—bishops, priests, and deacons—who administer the rites of the church. A cleric is an individual member of the clergy. Only men are permitted to join the clergy.
Confession or Reconciliation
The Catholic sacrament in which one makes a voluntary self-accusation of sins to a qualified priest in private in order to obtain absolution. The priest provides the confessor, also known as the penitent, with a penance to atone for sins committed. A priest who hears confession is forbidden from disclosing the contents of a confession to others under what is called the seal of confession.*
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a diocesan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribunal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors, and notaries.
Dallas Charter
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sets forth policies for each United States archdiocese and diocese to adopt as part of an effort to address allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Charter was formulated at the 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
One of three groups that comprise the clergy, meaning those ordained for ministry. Only men are permitted to become deacons. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if they are planning to become priests.
Diocesan Priest
Priests under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan ministries or released for service outside the diocese.
A territorial division of the Church headed by a bishop.
Extern Priest
A priest with faculties to minister in a diocese or archdiocese who was not ordained in that diocese or archdiocese. For example, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Springfield who has been granted faculties to minister by the Archdiocese of Chicago is an extern priest.*
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a Church superior, to perform certain official acts.
Members of the Catholic Church. Derived from Catholic teachings that clergy are like shepherds guiding a flock.*
Laicize or Defrock
The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime, but also can come at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization. When a priest is laicized without his consent for a crime, such as committing child sexual abuse, it is sometimes called defrocking.
Any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader, or music leader at mass.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests.
A member of a religious order of women who has taken solemn or simple vows.
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop. A cleric who has undergone ordination is known as ordained.*
A specific community within a diocese with its own church building and under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation.
Acts performed to atone for committed sins, as directed by a priest in the Catholic sacrament of reconcilliation.*
Residential housing for clergy provided by the Church. A rectory can also contain administrative offices for a parish.*
Religious Cleric
Professed member of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders.
Religious Order or Order
An institution of men or women, at least some of whose members take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and whose male members are sometimes ordained.*
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.
A cleric who acts in the name of another cleric.*
Vicar general
A priest, auxiliary bishop, or coadjutor bishop who assists the diocesan bishop in the governance of the diocese.
Victims Assistance Coordinator

A diocesan employee who has been designated to coordinate assistance to survivors of sex abuse by clerics.*