MN- “Most abusive Twin Cities priest” also worked in Crookston; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014
Statement by Verne Wagner of Duluth, Northeast MN (Duluth, MN & Superior, WI) SNAP director (218- 340-1277, firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to just-released church records, for almost 60 years, numerous Minnesota Catholic officials concealed the crimes of a predator priest who worked in the Crookston diocese.
It's not news that Fr. Louis Heitzer was a prolific pedophile. However, his work in the Crookston diocese was not disclosed until yesterday.
We urge Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner to aggressively seek out anyone who may have been sexually assaulted by Fr. Heitzer.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that Fr. Heitzer was at a church retreat house in Nevis, MN, that “allowed Heitzer to preside over weekend Masses at nearby parishes,” even though center staff had been warned in writing that he had molested children.
A Twin Cities Catholic official, Fr. Kevin McDonough, wrote in 2002 that Fr. Heitzer was “‘perhaps the most abusive priest ever to be part of this Archdiocese’ abusing kids ‘every place he went.’”
In Bishop Hoeppner's diocese, we believe there may be eight or ten men who struggle in silence, shame, secrecy and self-doubt, living sad and lonely lives as they battle the life-long harm caused by childhood sexual trauma. They deserve comfort and consolation. They deserve a bishop who acts like a compassionate shepherd, not a cold-hearted CEO.
Bishop Hoeppner should use his diocesan websites, parish bulletins, and pulpit announcements to seek out and help anyone who may have been sexually assaulted by Fr. Heitzer or any other child molesting cleric in the Crookston area.
He should do likewise with Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul, who fled to India to escape prosecution after molesting at least two Crookston area girls. This week, Fr. Jeyapaul moved closer to being extradited.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.