Diocese of Joliet to Get New Bishop, SNAP Calls for Action

A Catholic diocese in Illinois is getting a new bishop. We hope that this incoming prelate will make the protection of children and the vulnerable his highest priority and we suggest two immediate steps he can take when he is formally installed as bishop.

Fr. Ron Hicks from the Archdiocese of Chicago has been appointed by Pope Francis to become the Bishop of Joliet. With this promotion, Bishop-elect Hicks now has more responsibility for the safety of children and the vulnerable than ever. It is crucial that within his first few official weeks in this new post that he takes tangible steps to prevent abuse.

First, Bishop Hicks should read every file of every person accused of abuse in his diocese and ensure that each case is being or was handled properly. He should also turn over every single one of those files to local police and prosecutors to let properly trained experts in law enforcement determine if there are any crimes that can be charged.

Second, Bishop Hicks should review the list of the “credibly accused” released to the public by his new diocese and make sure that the list is complete. It should include the name of every abusive bishop, priest, brother, nun, and church employee or volunteer. Immediate improvements can be made to Joliet’s list by including more detail specific to when the allegations against each name were received and what actions were taken by church officials in response. Additionally, Bishop Hicks should update the list to include headshots and current whereabouts of each person listed.

We know that cases of clergy abuse in Illinois are being investigated by A.G. Kwame Raoul. Bishop Hicks has the opportunity to signal a new day in the church by cooperating with A.G. Raoul’s probe, sharing details of his cooperation with parishioners and the public, and urging other bishops in the state of Illinois to do the same.

For years, Catholic officials have promised transparency and openness to the public about sex crimes. Bishop Hicks can live up to that promise now.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant