A collection of Church sex abuse files are about to be made public. These relate to the ongoing abuse of children by more than 30 priests.
Some 6,000 pages of documentation from the Archdiocese of Chicago, America's third largest archdiocese, were released on Wednesday, giving hope to the victims and their families.
Lawyers have been battling for years to bring the Church to justice. Many want it to be held accountable for concealing, and in some cases, unintentionally encouraging the abuse of children.
The Church seems to be feeling all holy and righteous about their agreement to make the documents relating to the church sex abuse public, in order to: "bring healing to the victims and their families."
The victims, on the other hand, are saying that the release of the documents is the only way to know exactly the basis of the sexual abuse allegations in order to ensure that they never happen again.
One victim of sexual abuse from Springfield, Joe Iacono, now aged 62, who was abused in the 1960's while he was a student at a Catholic school near Chicago, said: "Hopefully it will help others out there struggling to come forward and get help."
Yesterday, a high ranking official from the archdiocese, Bishop Francis Kane, said in a news conference that the church was sorry for the sexual abuse it is accused of:
"I have seen firsthand the pain and suffering of the victims and their families. What we are doing now, I hope that it will bring healing and hope to the people that have been affected by these terrible sins and crimes."
The attorney for the archdiocese, John O'Malley, confirmed that the content of the church sex abuse files is "upsetting": "The information is painful; it's difficult to read, even without the benefit of hindsight," he said.
The files show that the church shielded priests who were accused of molesting children in their care, and failed to report the cases to the relevant authorities. The allegations of abuse relate to the period before 1988.
The archdiocese has already paid around $100 million in settlement money to victims of sexual abuse. Back in 2007, Father Daniel McCormack was sentenced to five years behind bars after pleading guilty to abusing five children while he was a parish priest at a Catholic school.
The midwest director for the Survivors Network, Peter Isely, said the release of the church sex abuse files are vital for Catholics from Chicago to read: "It's physical, material evidence and truth. I can't tell you how important this is to victims of trauma.... It's something that can't be denied and wished away."
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