(LifeSiteNews) –– A five-year investigation just published by the office of Illinois’ Attorney General reports that 451 Catholic clergy sexually abused nearly 2,000 children, a number vastly greater than previously reported by the state’s six dioceses before the investigation began.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul recounted in a news conference that his office discovered priests and religious brothers had abused 1,997 children in Illinois since 1950.
The 696-page Illinois report comes just one month after Maryland’s Attorney General released a nearly 500-page report detailing sexual abuse of children and teens by clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the groundbreaking 1,356-page Pennsylvania grand jury report published in 2018 that exposed decades of clerical sex abuse and Church cover-up.
“It is my hope that this report will shine light both on those who violated their positions of power and trust to abuse innocent children, and on the men in church leadership who covered up that abuse,” said Raoul, lamenting that in many cases the statute of limitations had passed or that the credibly accused priests had died. “These perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law, but by naming them here, the intention is to provide a public accountability and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, released a statement calling the report “stunning” and described the many victim narratives recounted in the report as “harrowing to read.”
The Illinois report predictably does its best to steer clear of tying the sexual abuse by Catholic priests to homosexuality, preferring to remain ambiguous, repeatedly using the non-gendered term “child sex abuse” when speaking about the nature of the clerical predation in general ways.
In fact, a search for the word “homosexual” within the 696-page report returns only two results. The term “pedophile” shows up eight times, and “pederast,” which has been the term that historically most accurately describes the majority of priest predation, shows up zero times in the report. However, the many narratives paint a clear picture of clerics grooming and forcing themselves primarily on boys and young men.
“What saddens me the most is they’re covering the sex abuse (by priests) but they’re not covering the real problem that homosexuality brings on the sex abuse of children,” noted Stephen Brady, an investigative reporter and head of Roman Catholic Faithful, in a telephone interview with LifeSiteNews.
Brady, who has been fighting corruption in the Church for decades, said he handed over 700 pages of documentation to the Illinois AG’s investigators.
“What I’m really depressed and saddened about is there’s no mention of Cardinal Bernardin,” said Brady, speaking of the former Archbishop of Chicago who allegedly engaged in homosexual predation.
“This hierarchy, they’re not even Catholic,” Brady suggested.
Harrowing testimony of abuse of an 11-year-old boy by a bishop
Bishop Daniel L. Ryan, head of the Diocese of Springfield from 1984 to 1999, is among the hundreds of clerics cited in the report.
According to testimony by a man identified as “Scott,” sexual abuse by the newly appointed bishop began in 1984 when Scott was just 11 years old.
One day, after Scott served at Mass with Ryan, the bishop asked him to help with something in the cathedral basement.
“It’s hard to remember what the basement looked like,” Scott reflects today. He knows it “felt bad” down there — like “a dark place where bad things happened.” On that terrible day in 1984, Ryan began to lick Scott’s face and made the boy fondle the bishop’s penis. Then, he forced anal sex on the child. “This will only hurt for a second,” Ryan tried to assure him.
This was not the only time Ryan sexually abused Scott. It happened about eight times over the course of a few years. It always took place in the cathedral basement — and Ryan always smelled of body odor and booze. Each time, the bishop issued specific instructions to the boy. “Put it in your mouth.” “Bend over.” “You are serving God by doing this,” Ryan insisted. But he also warned Scott, “Don’t tell your parents or else something bad will happen to them.”
Scott didn’t know it at the time, but he was not Ryan’s only victim. Years later, in 2019, the Diocese of Joliet confirmed Ryan as a substantiated child sex abuser. And in 2002, Ryan was accused of soliciting a 15-year-old Springfield boy for sex in 1984 — the same year he returned to the city and began abusing Scott.
It’s ‘disgusting’ that ‘shepherds would lie so blatantly’
“Let us be clear, in our view the bishops lied,” said SNAP in its statement, responding to the Illinois AG investigation. “There is no questioning the facts of the report – until 2018 when the investigation began, hierarchs in every Illinois diocese kept known abusers under wraps, declined to include them on their accused lists, and refused to acknowledge the truth that survivors of abuse who came forward to make a report shared with them.”
“It is to us, in a word, disgusting that these supposed shepherds would lie so blatantly. It is, in a word, arrogant that they believed their lies would somehow remain secret even in the face of a secular investigation. We are grateful that their disgusting arrogance has now been publicly exposed,” said SNAP, continuing:
While each story is unique in its own terrible way, they are also alike in key areas:
First, almost all of these survivors were ignored by the Catholic leaders to whom they reported. In nearly every case, Church officials chose to accept the words of abusers and the recommendations of other trash-passing bishops that it was the priest who was innocent, not the victimized child.
Second, Catholic leaders artfully and purposefully utilized the statute of limitations to ensure that the criminals they hired, trained, and ordained could not be brought to justice. Third, they deceived the parishioners in their pews, telling them that they had cleaned up their act while they were still quietly transferring abusers from parish to parish, giving them new hunting grounds.
Learning from Pennsylvania
According to SNAP, “Any law enforcement agency investigating nearly any Catholic diocese in the United States would find precisely the same level of criminal behavior by clerics, and the same level of cover-up by Church officials,” as found in the Illinois AG report.
A LifeSiteNews analysis of the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed at the time that the vast majority of reported sexual predator priests were homosexuals, most of whom preyed on teenage boys.
Nearly three-quarters of the offending priests were homosexual, while only about a quarter were heterosexual. Fewer than 3% of their victims were adults, and of those, most were young seminarians.
The numbers strongly suggest that the sexual abuse crisis within the U.S. Catholic Church stems from homosexuality, not pedophilia.
The biggest target group for the abusers was teenagers. Over three-quarters of the abusive priests were pederasts. Of those, one-fifth (21%) chose adolescent girls as their victims and four-fifths (79%) chose adolescent boys.