Illinois attorney general to meet church officials on abuse

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ attorney general is planning to meet with Chicago Archdiocese officials to discuss seven priests with links to the state who were included in a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse.

The report released this month found that about 300 Catholic priests abused at least 1,000 children over the past 70 years, with claims of a systematic cover-up by senior church leaders that used similar methods unearthed in the initial clergy sex-abuse story that broke nationwide in 2002.

“The Catholic Church has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She also plans to contact other Illinois dioceses and will work with state’s attorneys and law enforcement to investigate them if bishops don’t fully cooperate.

Among the Chicago-area priests named in the recent report are the Revs. Raymond Lukac, Gregory Furjanic, Jerry Kucan and Robert Spangenberg. All four priests are dead.

Lukac was a known “problem priest” accused of abusing an 11-year-old girl in the rectory of Posen’s St. Stanislaus parish in the early 1960s, the report said. Furjanic has unspecified accusations predating his 2003 arrival to Chicago to serve the Croatian Franciscan Friars. Kucan is accused of a series of abuses in Pennsylvania before he was placed in Chicago’s St. Jerome parish in 1982, St. Anthony in 1986, Sacred Heart in 1994 and St. Anthony’s Friary 1995. Spangenberg was accused of abusing boys in Pennsylvania after serving in the 1980s as chaplain at Chicago’s St. Francis de Sale High School.

Chicago Archdiocese officials said Thursday they “look forward to discussing” misconduct policies with Madigan.

“Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Chicago has reported all abuse allegations to the proper civil authorities,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We also met with members of the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney and they reviewed our clergy files in 1992, 2002 and 2015.”

Madigan’s counterpart in neighboring Missouri also announced more potent action this week . Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said he was launching an investigation into sex crimes within the Catholic Church in his state. The St. Louis Archdiocese has pledged to open its files for investigation, Hawley said.