Abuse Cases Cost Church $16.8 Million

From Associated Press

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese here spent $16.8 million in the last decade on 55 cases alleging sex abuse by priests, church officials said in a report released Thursday.

But there have been no substantiated allegations of priest abuse since 1990, the report said, leading church officials to conclude that a housecleaning program established in 1992 by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin is helping protect children.

"His promise for the future is our current record," said the archdiocese's chancellor, Jimmy Lago, the report's author, of Bernardin, who died in 1996.

Victims' groups praised the archdiocese for increasing its openness, but said more transparency is needed.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said that because some victims report abuse years later, "It would be naive of us to assume at this point that there hasn't been any more abuse since '91."

"Has any activity happened? Well, we pray not," said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.

The cases occurred as much as 40 years ago and no later than 1990, but the alleged victims came forward in the last decade, Lago said. All 36 priests accused have been removed, resigned or died. Their cases were forwarded to law enforcement, but no priests were prosecuted because the abuse took place too long ago, the report said.

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