MN--Victims blast new head of Twin Cities archdiocese
For immediate release: Sunday, July 12
We’re very saddened and worried by recent claims made by the new head of the Twin Cities archdiocese. Bernard Hebda seems more like an over-the-top cheerleader than a thoughtful, conscientious shepherd. He seems fixated with public relations posturing to mollify the flock instead of fixing a scandal-ridden institution. At best, he seems like a Pollyanna and at worst, he seems like a slick politician.
--In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Hebda said that "great strides have already been made" in monitoring abusive priests. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/07/10/hebda
Come on! Just a few weeks ago, a prosecutor called the archdiocese’s alleged monitoring “a sham.” It’s pretty hard to believe that it could have improved dramatically in such a short time.
We challenge Hebda to cite facts about the alleged monitoring of pedophile priests. Parents and parishioners need and deserve details, not deception.
Even more, we challenge Hebda to force child molesting clerics to live in one place and tell people where it is. Now, dozens of dangerous clerics live on their own in neighborhoods surrounded by vulnerable kids and unsuspecting families. Real monitoring means housing predators under the clear and constant supervision of independent, trained, secular professionals, not part-time church staff. Bishops Nienstedt, Piche, Couzzens, Carlson and others refused to do this. Hebda should start doing it.
--In another, lengthy interview (with the archdiocesan newspaper), the first “challenge” Hebda cites in the archdiocese are priests who don’t speak enough foreign languages. The second he cites is “how to keep our young people engaged.”
Sadly, he doesn’t mention the safety of children or the healing of victims or the exposing of cover ups or the prevention of abuse.
--Hebda refuses, like his predecessor, to use the phrase “cover up.” He claims “sometimes our priests have committed acts of abuse,” minimizing the widespread extent of this crisis. (Church officials now admit that some 6,427 US priests are accused of child sex crimes. The real figure, we suspect, is three or four times higher. In at least three dioceses, roughly 10% of priests have been accused of abusing kids.)
--He claims that that the archdiocese has “done an excellent job here of addressing” issues like
“transparency and “good relationships with law enforcement.” Huh?
--He repeats the canard that dozens of Twin Cities Catholic church officials have mindlessly repeated for decades, that “People in the Church and around the country will be learning from St. Paul and Minneapolis best practices that move us forward.” Again, huh? The archdiocese is being criminally charged with putting kids in harm’s way. “Best practices?”
In short, kids need prevention, not pablum. Kids are protected by specific deeds, not casual speculation or PR spin. We hope Twin Cities Catholics and citizens – and law enforcement personnel – won’t be lulled into complacency by a glad-handing cheerleader. We hope they insist that Hebda take tangible, proven steps to protect the vulnerable, punish the guilty, deter the cover ups and reveal the truth.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,firstname.lastname@example.org), Verne Wagner of Duluth, Northeast MN SNAP director (218- 340-1277, email@example.com)
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.
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.