Cardinal Blase Cupich

Protecting God’s children

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The approach of Catholic Schools Week gives us an opportunity to revisit the efforts the Archdiocese of Chicago has been taking to keep our children safe.

First, we must acknowledge forthrightly the serious mishandling in the past of child abuse in our parishes and schools by clergy and others. The pain caused by these failures is the reason this archdiocese has, for more than 30 years, been at the forefront of creating and continually improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and support survivors.

Each year, we cooperate with an independent audit to help us measure compliance with those policies, and each year we have been found compliant. We also regularly call on outside experts to review our methods and recommend improvements.

Here is a summary of what we do, year in and year out, to keep children safe in our schools and parishes and bring healing to those who have suffered abuse:


• When we learn of an allegation of abuse, we act promptly, report it to civil authorities, remove the accused from ministry and investigate the allegation. Allegations are submitted to our lay-majority independent review board for investigation. In fact, all accusations of abuse, going back more than a half-century, have been reported to civil authorities. We report such allegations regardless of whether the report is anonymous, the accused is alive or dead, a diocesan priest, an extern priest from another diocese or a religious order priest.

• Since 1991, we have maintained one of the first and largest victim/survivor assistance programs in the nation. We provide this assistance to anyone making an allegation regardless of when the abuse is alleged to have occurred, whether the accused is living or whether the allegation is eventually substantiated. We have collaborated with survivors to respond to their need for healing. This partnership has led to the development of the Healing Garden, the annual Mass for Hope and Healing and Pinwheel Service for Child Abuse Prevention, survivor-led peace circles and the Healing Voices magazine.

• We investigate every allegation against an archdiocesan cleric or layperson we receive, regardless of whether the accused is alive or dead. When an allegation of child sexual abuse involves a religious order priest working in a ministry of the archdiocese, we remove the accused’s faculties to minister in the archdiocese, contact the religious order and help facilitate the survivor’s report. Every religious order is mandated to have a process for investigating such allegations.

• Since 2006, we have published to our website the names of diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of abuse. We update that list as needed and have expanded it to include available information on religious priests whose order has substantiated an accusation against him and who has been assigned to a ministry of the archdiocese.

• In 2014, we released more than 20,000 documents from these priests’ files and continue to cooperate with state and local officials as they investigate abuse.

• We perform background screenings on archdiocesan employees and volunteers and conduct a comprehensive safe-environment training program
for adults and children. We regularly train more than 100,000 children a year, in an age-appropriate manner, on how to recognize, resist and report abusive behavior. To date, we have trained more than 263,000 adults over the course of 3,700 training sessions.

While no system is perfect, after 30 years, we have developed a set of practices that can serve as a model for any institution making a serious effort to protect children Yet, we remain vigilant, accountable and current with best practices. 

From my earliest days as a bishop, I have dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse by keeping the child at the center of my actions. I am personally committed to applying the highest level of vigilance to our safeguarding efforts and to further strengthen our policies against abuse. I invite other institutions that care for children and civil authorities to join us in this work and to consider the procedures we have developed over the past three decades, so all children can be kept safe.


  • charter for the protection of children and young people
  • clergy sexual abuse