The Chicago Archdiocese opened the books on sexual abuse by 36 priests Monday.
15,000 pages of internal files, representing decades of church secrecy, are now posted on the archdiocese website in the name of transparency.
They involve the confirmed abuse of hundreds of children since 1950.
Though their names were not published in the files, it’s causing heartache and pain for dozens of sex abuse victims, who are now reliving terrible memories created by some Chicago Catholic priests.
For the victims seeing these files for the first time, it’s bringing up new revelations. They’re learning they were not alone, but it’s also confirming suspicious that church administrators knew what was going on, while little to no action was taken.
Terre Theis was in 7th grade at St. Catherine’s of Alexandria in Oak Lawn in the early 70s when Father Donald Mulsoff came to the parish.
Mulsoff was one of 36 priests named by Chicago’s archdiocese as priests with substantiated claims of sex abuse involving minors.
“One time when he disciplined me up there, he made me bend over a desk, a library table and he took down my underwear and fondled me,” Theis said.
Theis lived through some of the stories spelled out in the 15,000 page file released by the diocese. It includes everything from pictures, evaluations, and interviews released surrounding these priests.
“I was surprised to learn that a retired teacher and two people that worked at the school backed-up our stories. That he was doing these crazy things with boys and girls,” Theis said.
14 of the priests on this list are dead, including Mulsoff. The rest have been removed from ministry.
“I’m very disappointing that they knew so much and they did so little,” Theis said.
This information is being made public just two weeks before Cardinal George is set to retire, turning over the reins to Archbishop-elect Cupich.
Cardinal George was not talking on-camera about these files, but released a statement saying he wants to rebuild trust in the church.
The archdiocese is still encouraging victims to come forward. To date, the archdiocese has paid $130 million in damage claims to victims and their families.
To view the documents, go to archchicago.org