The Archdiocese of Chicago will on Wednesday hand over thousands of pages documenting clergy sex abuse allegations to victims' attorneys who have fought for years to hold the Catholic Church accountable for its handling of such claims.
The attorneys said the documents, which they will make public next week, will offer greater detail on how the church concealed crimes and sometimes assigned priests to positions that allowed them to continue molesting children.
The nation's third-largest archdiocese agreed to release complaints, personnel documents and other files for about 30 priests with substantiated abuse allegations as part of settlements with abuse victims.
The documents are similar to recent disclosures by other dioceses in the U.S. that showed how the church shielded priests and failed to report child sex abuse to authorities. Chicago officials said most of the abuse occurred before 1988 and none after 1996.
"Until there is public disclosure and transparency ... there is no way people can learn about it and make sure it does not happen again," said attorney Marc Pearlman, who has helped represent about 200 victims of clergy abuse in the Chicago area. He said he has been working to get the church to release the documents since 2005.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said neither Cardinal Francis George nor archdiocese attorneys were available for comment Tuesday. The archdiocese plans to hold a news conference on Wednesday.