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“No One Else Has Done More”

Via Ophelia comes the news that the sweet, friendly, new pope that everyone loves has a rosy outlook that extends to the coverup and facilitation of child sexual abuse by the Church.

“The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No-one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked,” he said in an interview with Il Corriere della Sera daily published Wednesday.

The same article notes that the Vatican has been denounced by the United Nations for appalling response to allegations of abuse. Commenters at Ophelia’s compare the response to allegations in the Church and at the local school, finding the Vatican wanting. They point out that the Vatican is a haven for those running from facing the problem. Me, though? I think it’s time to check back in with Minnesota Public Radio on our own local problem.

What’s been up since last we visited the story? First off, due to MPR’s work on the story, the archdiocese ended their five-year battle in court to keep the names of “credibly accused” priests from going public.

A Ramsey County judge ordered today that the names of 46 Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse — 33 from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and 13 from the Diocese of Winona — be made public.

Attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse have sought the release of the names since a Ramsey County judge sealed them in a 2009 lawsuit. They’ve argued that the public is at risk as long as the names remain secret.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis went first.

The archdiocese also released the names of four other priests who had been included on an earlier list, but church officials now say those four should not have been included. A Ramsey County judge ordered the archdiocese Monday to release a list of 33 priests that had been sealed since 2009.

Seven of the priests named today were not previously known to the public as accused abusers. Five of those seven are still living. Others, such as the Rev. Robert Kapoun, are already well known through lawsuits and media coverage. About one-third of the priests on the list are dead.

It turned out that the archdiocese hadn’t represented the list quite accurately, even in recent years.

It also calls into question the archdiocese’s previous statements. Church officials have long argued that the public didn’t need to see the names because most of the priests were either dead, falsely accused or already well known. [...]

However, only 11 of the priests are dead. Seven of the priests on today’s list were not known to the public as abusers. And in court on Monday, an archdiocese attorney didn’t say any of the men had been falsely accused. Rather, he said that three of the priests have been accused of abuse that could not be substantiated by church investigators.

A lawsuit was filed in another archdiocese to prompt the release of a similar list.

“Every day, every hour that passes that these names remain quiet, and the bishop chooses to keep them quiet, puts kids at risk,” said attorney Mike Finnegan.

The list of priests accused of abuse was compiled in 2004.

An abbey just outside the Twin Cities released its own list.

The list includes nine monks living at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., under “supervised safety plans,” the abbey said. Seven monks on the list are dead; two are no longer monks and no longer are connected to abbey leaders, who said they were releasing the names voluntarily.

“This list reflects our best efforts to identify those who likely have offended against minors,” an abbey spokesman said in a statement.

A judge allowed an unusual suit to proceed.

The ruling is unprecedented, said attorney Jeff Anderson, who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse since the 1980s.

Anderson’s past efforts to persuade judges that the archdiocese’s handling of clergy abuse allegations puts children at risk and creates a public nuisance have failed.

Archbishop John Nienstedt apologized from the pulpit for looking the other way.

Nienstedt said mass at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Edina. He told parishioners and reporters after mass that he was told the issue of clergy sex abuse was taken care of when he became archbishop seven years ago.

“Unfortunately I believed that and so my biggest apology today, and I did this last week at two other parishes, is to say I overlooked this. I should have investigated it more than I did,” Nienstedt said.

The Diocese of Winona released its own list.

The disclosure by the Diocese of Winona marked the first time 12 of the names have been made public; two were already known to the public through lawsuits and media reports.

Diocese officials released the list nearly two weeks after Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North ordered it to do so.

Faced with claims that he himself sexually touched a minor, Archbishop Nienstedt left his duties.

The St. Paul Police Department began its investigation at 2 p.m. Monday after the archdiocese encouraged a person within the church who is required by law to report allegations of abuse to contact authorities. In a statement this morning, archdiocese officials said they learned of the allegation from that person.

It is not clear why the person who reported the allegation did not first notify law-enforcement officials.

The St. Paul police chief expressed frustration with the archdiocese, and the archdiocese promised publicly to do better.

St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is not cooperating with an ongoing criminal investigation into clergy sexual abuse.

Smith said the former top church deputy, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, has refused to talk to police.

MPR uncovered a credibly accused priest who wasn’t included on the archdiocese’s list and had been allowed to continue to work.

But Walsh had a secret. He’d been accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old altar boy decades earlier, according to church documents obtained by MPR News, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis contributed to a financial settlement for the girl. Nonetheless, archbishops Harry Flynn and John Nienstedt allowed him to continue working in parishes until the fall of 2011. And neither bishop called police or warned the public.

MPR discovered three more priests left off the list.

An internal church memo from 2002 names three priests with “known abuse histories” who weren’t on the list of “credibly accused” priests released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis earlier this month.

The three priests are: the Rev. Tom Gillespie, the Rev. Harold Whittet, and the Rev. Ambrose Filbin. Gillespie, a Benedictine monk, was identified by St. John’s Abbey on Dec. 9 as a cleric “likely to have offended against minors.” Whittet and Filbin are dead.

The archdiocese asked that the court loosen its reporting requirements.

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have asked a judge to loosen an order requiring it to disclose the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004.

The archdiocese now argues that it doesn’t want to release the names of all priests accused of abuse. Rather, it wants time to investigate the allegations first and release the names of the accused priests only if Catholic Church officials determine the claims are credible.

The Diocese of Duluth released its own list.

The Diocese of Duluth on Tuesday released the names of 17 former priests it says have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a young person sometime in the years from 1950 to the present.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba also released the names of five other priests with ties to the area who were accused while working in other ministries and apologized on behalf of the church to those who have been affected by clergy sexual abuse.

The Diocese of St. Could released its own list.

The Diocese of St. Cloud, faced with a lawsuit and mounting public pressure, has released a list of 33 Catholic priests it believes “were likely involved in the sexual abuse of minors.”

At least 16 of the priests were already known to the public through lawsuits and media reports. Several had been named as likely abusers last month by St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Diocese of New Ulm asked a court to be allowed to keep its list secret.

A lawsuit Anderson filed last month seeks the release of a list of 12 priests in the diocese. The suit alleges the New Ulm diocese and the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order, neglected to supervise the Rev. Francis Markey, who worked in the diocese in the mid-1980s. The plaintiff alleged that Markey sexually abused him at St. Andrew parish in Granite Falls, Minn., in 1982, when he was 8 years old. [...]

In a statement, diocese officials said two of the people named on the list believe the sexual abuse allegations made against them are false and their names should therefore not be made public.

MPR revealed the existence of church funds dedicated to handling problems like these.

Internal financial reports show the archdiocese used the stealth accounts repeatedly, paying nearly $11 million from 2002 to 2011 — about 3 percent of overall archdiocese revenues in those years — for costs tied to clergy misconduct under Flynn and his successor, Archbishop John Nienstedt.

The system allowed archdiocese leaders to remove priests who had committed child abuse or other infractions without attracting attention. Lax accounting controls let church leaders cut checks to make problems go away.

The Diocese of Crookston released its list.

The Diocese of Crookston has released the names of six priests accused of sexually abusing children. Five of the priests on the Crookston list are dead. All six are already known to the public through lawsuits and media reports. [...]

The decision by Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner leaves New Ulm as the only diocese in Minnesota that hasn’t released a list of accused priests.

MPR uncovered delays in reporting of recent abuse allegations to police.

Archbishop John Nienstedt did not immediately report to police allegations that the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer sexually abused a child, according to a document obtained Wednesday by MPR News that the archbishop signed in 2012.

The document — a formal decree signed by Nienstedt to comply with church law — says the archdiocese knew of the allegations on June 18. Yet police reports show the archdiocese didn’t report the claims to police until two days later.

The archdiocese continued to attempt to block the release of recent allegations.

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona are seeking to block the depositions of Archbishop John Nienstedt and two other priests and halt the ordered release of the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004.

In a memorandum filed in Ramsey County District Court late yesterday, the archdiocese argued that the disclosure of the names of the priests, even under court seal, would cause “irreparable harm to the Archdiocese and its clergy.” It said it plans to appeal the judge’s order.

The archdiocese released more names, though not those they were fighting in court.

The list, posted on the Archdiocese website, includes nine names. All but two of the men are already known to the public. Three are dead. Only one was accused in the past decade.

The archdiocese appealed the decision that they were required to release the recent list.

Last week a Ramsey County district judge ordered Archbishop John Nienstedt and his top deputies to be deposed under oath in the case. That followed an earlier order to disclose the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004.

In a statement, the archdiocese said it’s appealing the order because it’s overly broad, and disclosure of the names — even under seal — could harm priests who’ve been accused falsely.

After losing the appeal, the archdiocese provided the requested names to the court.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has submitted under seal in Ramsey County District Court the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004, according to victims’ attorneys. [...]

The latest disclosure comes as part of a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in 1976 and 1977. Last year, in the same lawsuit, Van de North ordered the archdiocese to release the names of “credibly accused” priests on an older list.

That brings us up to date. This has all happened under the new pope’s watch. This is what he considers world-class transparency and responsibility. No wonder the U.N. thinks otherwise.

Comments

  1. says

    What a fucking joke. (Did the Pope cite any specific examples of Church action here?) US lawmakers and law-enforcement have been cracking down on anything even remotely resembling child-sexual-abuse since the 1980s…so (for better or worse) that’s at least one institution that’s been doing a LOT more about the problem than the Catholic Church.

    Even this cuddly new “People’s Pope” can’t open his mouth without spouting ridiculous lies. That says a lot about the state of the Church overall.

  2. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Times like this, all I can do is play Tim Minchin’s Pope Song over and over and sing along as emphatically as possible.

  3. cuervocuero says

    Interesting that the repeated theme in much of the Church balking is the heirarchy’s deep, deep concern about priests being *falsely* accused of sexual assault.

    Where have I heard that before…

  4. Mary L says

    Is this the same RCC that once taught me, “Render unto Caesar…” meant more than “Pay your taxes.” ? I don’t recognize it anymore.

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