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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2015

For more information:
Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
Cell: (217) 622-4996
Email:

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki: Film puts Spotlight on abuse prevention

Bishop Paprocki wrote the following op-ed to the State Journal-Register that was published in their November 23, 2015 edition. You can view the article on the SJ-R's site by clicking here.

The new movie Spotlight was released in selected major cities on Nov. 6 with a further rollout scheduled in other cities in coming weeks. The screenplay is based on the investigation of the Boston archdiocese’s sex abuse scandal of the early 2000s by the Spotlight team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe.

Media coverage about the movie’s content may be difficult for those who were abused by a priest as it may serve as a reminder of a traumatic event in their lives. In addition, some Catholics and non-Catholics may approach the movie as a window to what is happening in the church today, not what happened in the past. The release of the movie could also be a difficult time for our own priests as they are reminded of a tragic and challenging era in the church.

Spotlight provides an opportunity to raise awareness of all that has been done to prevent child sexual abuse in the Church. Within the boundaries of our own diocese, more than 45,000 parishioners 18 and older have been trained in Protecting God’s Children since the program began in 2002 and continues on an ongoing basis in each parish.

We acknowledge the role of the Boston Globe reporters in bringing this issue forward for necessary action, and we continue to pray for the victims of abuse and their families. All life is precious. As such, we must all remain vigilant and strive to embody the teachings of the church and the example of Jesus.

In my homily on December 12, 2011, at our Cathedral in Springfield for the Evening of Repentance and Prayer for those Harmed in the Church, I said, “I express repentance for the sins of the members of the Church who have harmed others. Sometimes these harms were evil in themselves, such as the sins of racism and the sexual abuse of minors, as well as other forms of unchastity.”

More recently, in my pastoral letter on growth in the Church, Ars crescendo in Dei Gratia, issued on September 14, 2015, I wrote, “There are no excuses for inexcusable behavior. On behalf of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, I sincerely apologize for the sexual abuse of minors, the misappropriation of parish funds, acts of racial discrimination and other serious sins committed by priests and other Church personnel that have harmed the People of God. I am truly sorry that bishops and other leaders in the Church did not always address these problems adequately or appropriately. For the past several years, our diocese has vigorously implemented the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. I pledge to continue these efforts diligently.”

To report allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by the clergy ─ even if the allegation occurred in the past ─ individuals are encouraged to call the diocese’s child abuse reporting and investigation number at 321-1155. Individuals may also contact Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (252-2873).

We at the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois remain committed to continue our efforts to work in partnership with local agencies to prevent any child from being abused or neglected. We also seek to bring about healing where abuse has occurred.

May God give us this grace. Amen

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