MN - Twin Cities priest scandal is “worst yet,” SNAP says
For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
Statement by Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata, Minnesota Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (firstname.lastname@example.org, 952 471 3422)
A police report says that top officials at the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese withheld evidence of child porn and now the alleged sex offender can’t be criminally charged.
And for a decade, several archdiocesan staffers hid the alleged child porn from parents, parishioners and the public.
Both moves are extraordinarily irresponsible and kept children at risk. Both moves prove that, in the Catholic hierarchy, when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups, little has changed.
Jaded Catholic and citizens who are inclined to say “Ho hum, another Catholic sex scandal” should pay close attention here. This case is different. This is the worst case in Minnesota in more than a decade.
Because several Catholic officials protected him, a priest who had thousands of images of child porn and might otherwise have spent the last decade in prison won’t go to prison. Every day of this decade of deliberate deceit, secrecy and recklessness has happened AFTER America’s Catholic bishops solemnly pledged to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes.
Like similar cases in Kansas City (involving Bishop Robert Finn) and Philadelphia (involving Msgr. William Lynn), this case shows that high-ranking Catholic officials continue to obsess with protecting themselves and their reputations instead of protecting innocent kids and vulnerable adults.
When you’re caught doing wrong, you have two choices. You can stop doing wrong. Or you can try even harder to hide your wrongdoing. Twin Cities’ Catholic officials are doing the latter. Thankfully, in two alarming recent cases – with Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer and Fr. Jonathan Shelley - their self-serving and devious decisions have been exposed. (As Martin Luther King said “No lie lives forever.”)
The obvious and frightening question is “How many other dangerous sex offender clergy is Archbishop Nienstadt hiding?”
The vicar general’s voluntary resignation changes nothing. The archbishop’s resignation – were it to happen – would change nothing.
History, experience and common sense tell us that only two things will make children safer in the Catholic church in the Twin Cities.
First, every single Catholic church employee and member – current and former – must search his or her conscience and find the courage to call police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups and other independent sources of help. Every shrewd of knowledge or suspicion about possible clergy sex crimes and cover ups must be turned over to law enforcement – no matter how small, old or seemingly insignificant.
Second, a full and aggressive law enforcement investigation into clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Twin Cities is crucial. Every single current and former Catholic employee who ignored, concealed and enabled child sex crimes – from archbishop to administrator – must be exposed, removed, and prosecuted.
We again beg Twin Cities prosecutors to launch a full-scale grand jury investigation into the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese to that the vulnerable can be protected, the wounded can be healed, the truth can be exposed, cover ups can be exposed and more wrongdoing be prevented.
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
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