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Eleven Chicago Priests Removed

Eleven priests suspected of sexual misconduct with minors more than 20 years ago have been barred from clerical work, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago said Monday.

The men cannot present themselves as priests, engage in public ministries or act as an agent of the archdiocese, although they have not been removed from the priesthood, said Chancellor Jimmy Lago (search).

Lago would not disclose specific allegations or the priests' names or parishes.

The 11 were among a group of 14 priests whose alleged sexual misconduct was forwarded to Vatican officials two years ago by Cardinal Francis George (search), archdiocese officials said. One of the priests has died and two other cases will be decided by pending canonical trials.

The Vatican studied the cases last year and authorized George to conduct a review that included opinions from advocates for the priests and advisers, Lago said.

"Cardinal George has determined, based on the information presented, that sexual misconduct did occur," he said.

The sexual abuse, which allegedly took place 20 to 30 years ago in all of the cases, was reported both to the parishes and civil authorities, Lago said.

The statue of limitations has expired in all the cases, officials said.

Victim advocates said the church should have made the priests' names public.

"I think that this begrudging, long overdue action ... does not relieve Cardinal George of his responsibility," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (search). "There's 11 known child molesters out there that are not going to be found on any sex offender registries."

George's actions follow changes adopted three years ago by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal. In June, the bishops extended their policy of permanently barring sex offenders from church work.

The crisis erupted in January 2002 over revelations that many bishops had moved guilty priests among parishes without warning parents or police.

The archdiocese paid out $18.2 million in the last fiscal year to settle legal claims by people alleging sexual abuse by priests. Since 2002, 19 of its priests have been removed from ministry, Lago said.