The Attorney General of Illinois is to set up a sex abuse enquiry in the six dioceses in the state.
“The Catholic Church has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behaviour involving priests,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said on Thursday.
Her action follows on from the recent grand jury report in Pennsylvania that identified 1,000 alleged sex abuse victims of 300 priests during a 70-year period.
“We have reviewed the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which identifies at least seven priests with connections to Illinois,” Mrs Madigan’s office stated. “The Chicago Archdiocese has agreed to meet with me. I plan to reach out to the other dioceses in Illinois to have the same conversation and expect the bishops will agree and cooperate fully.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said that they “look forward to discussing our policies and procedures related to misconduct issues with her and her office”.
The Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, is a leading figure in the American Church. He is currently in Dublin for the World Meeting of Families.
Calling the Pennsylvania report a “catalogue of horrors”, Cardinal Cupich said on Thursday that “a lot of damage has been done” to the faith of believers.
Mrs Madigan said that if the Church is not cooperative she “will work with states attorneys and law enforcement throughout Illinois to investigate”.
In the neighbouring state of Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley said he was launching an investigation into sex crimes in the Church in the state.