The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has hired a Los Angeles-based consulting firm to review the personnel files of all its priests, as part of the church's approach to dealing with allegations of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct.
Archbishop John Nienstedt said on Friday that the Twin Cities archdiocese would release names of priests who have sexually abused children. A day and half later, church officials added caveats.
A retired priest who admitted to sexually abusing several young boys and a teenager on a South Dakota American Indian reservation now lives less than a block from a school in New Prague, Minn. Three archbishops and other leaders of the Twin Cities archdiocese kept Clarence Vavra's past a secret, moving him 17 times during his 38-year career. Today, Archbishop John Nienstedt acknowledges that "serious errors were made by the archdiocese in dealing with him," and pledges to disclose the names of other priests who have abused children.
Demonstrators said Nienstedt should resign over how he's handled alleged sexual misconduct by priests, his support for a failed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and the decision by church leaders to make extra payments to priests who have sexually abused children.
A task force created to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Twin Cities' Catholic Church will only have access to information provided by the Rev. Reginald Whitt, the church official appointed to oversee it, according to a letter he wrote to Twin Cities clergy last week. The move appears to contradict the archdiocese's earlier assertions that the task force would remain independent.
Writing in his weekly column, Nienstedt said he ordered the review after reading recent media reports and hearing from "so many Catholic faithful" that there is "real fear that some priests in ministry today constitute a danger to children."
Two priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have suggested a change in leadership at the local church is necessary in light of recent revelations of clergy misconduct. Today, Archbishop John Nienstedt said he accepts responsibility for the church's handling of the situation and said he regrets that a growing number of parishioners and priests have "lost confidence" in him.
Recent reports about clergy misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis threaten to put new financial pressure on an institution already under some financial strain.
A priest representing a North St. Paul parish is calling for change in leadership in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis saying "sometimes a fresh start is needed for all involved."
Spokesman Jim Accurso said a final decision on the capital campaign "has been put on pause with the intention of revisiting it again in January."
In a letter to then-vicar general Kevin McDonough, parishioner Kate Ternus described her concerns about the contents of the Rev. Jon Shelley's computer. Her family received Shelley's used computer in 2004, and the archdiocese later determined it contained "borderline illegal" pornography. The letter dated Sept. 17, 2004 mentions a local Catholic high school and could indicate for the first time that Shelley's behavior may have gone beyond pornography.
The call was prompted by an ongoing criminal investigation, said Police Commander Mary Nash of the department's family and sexual violence unit. She declined to provide any details.
The former accounting director of the Twin Cities archdiocese said recently that several accused priests receive pension payments higher than normal. Another former church official discovered them, too, over the past few years and had them stopped. The archdiocese says church law requires that offending priests must have 'financial, therapeutic and spiritual support.' The Rev. Robert Kapoun is one of them.
The department had recently closed the case looking into allegations of child pornography found on computer files once belonging to the Rev. Jonathan Shelley for lack of evidence.
A Saturday letter from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis asked priests to tell parishioners during Mass this weekend about Archbishop John Nienstedt's formation of a lay task force that will review the handling of clergy sexual misconduct.