Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke is again pressing Catholic church officials on the issue of abuse.
Burke was part of a church-appointed panel that — 15 years ago — investigated priests who abused children.
Now she and other members of the panel have signed a letter to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
They're asking for a new investigation, and offering to pick up where they left off. But Burke says this time, they have to focus not on the abusive priests, but the church leaders who covered up the crimes.
“We’re talking about the bishops and the cardinals — who knew what and when?” Burke says. “We know now that many of them did know — a lot."
The commission members also say they should report directly to the pope, not American bishops.
“The administration for the Catholic church by clerics is unacceptable. It has failed,” Burke says. “So if they want to have people in the pews, then they’re going to have to permit the people in the pews to help address what needs to be done to regain trust.”
Burke says there were secret files kept from the panel 15 years ago.
Because of that, Burke also says government authorities — who can force the release of documents — should conduct their own investigations.
Burke has been on the Illinois Supreme Court since 2006 and is running for retention this year.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.