MN- Victims challenge New Ulm bishop
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014
For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata (952-471-3422, firstname.lastname@example.org), Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, email@example.com)
Victims challenge New Ulm bishop
New documents show predator was prolific
Pedophile priest worked in 15 Minnesota towns
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging New Ulm’s Catholic bishop to reach out to victims of an abusive priest who, according to new church records, was especially egregious.
Documents revealed yesterday by Minnesota Public Radio show that a high ranking Twin Cities church official says that Fr. Louis Heitzer, who worked throughout the New Ulm Diocese, “was perhaps the most abusive priest ever to be a part of this archdiocese.”
That same official, Fr. Kevin McDonough, also wrote “I now believe that Fr. Heitzer abused boys every place he went." The archdiocese hasn't released any information on Heitzer's alleged abuse. He died in 1969.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, want Bishop John M. LeVoir to “use his resources to aggressively seek out others who were hurt by this child molesting cleric and who may still be suffering in shame, silence and self-blame.”
“That Fr. Heitzer was a predator is not news. But how prolific he apparently was IS news, at least to the public,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “And because you and your colleagues keep promising 'openness,' you should actually practice it, by aggressively seeking out some of those who've been hurt by Fr. Heitzer.”
“It's hard for some to understand this, but many times, victims stay silent unless someone in authority – a prosecutor, a bishop, or even a parent – begs them to step forward and get help,” said Megan Peterson, Twin Cities SNAP leader. “Fr. Heitzer's victims are likely getting up in age. They were kids in an age when kids were often to be 'seen, not heard,' So it's likely they're still carrying this horrible burden alone. Catholic officials can and should gently but firmly prod them to break their silence and start healing.”
Over about 25 years of ministry, Fr. Heitzer worked at churches in at least 15 Minnesota towns: Winsted, Fairfax, Franklin, Waconia, Richfield, Heidelberg, Clearwater, Winthrop, Gaylord, Rosen, Marshall, Sleepy Eye, Forest Lake, Birch Coulee, and St. Paul.
(Also today, SNAP is praising a Texas bishop for doing such outreach: http://www.snapnetwork.org/tx_victims_group_praises_texas_diocese)
Back in 2002, church officials admitted that Fr. Heitzer had been credibly accused years earlier.
Here are two of the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocesan records about Fr. Heitzer:
Fr. Heitzer's full work history is here:
Fr. Louis Heitzer is now deceased.
(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 15,000 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 (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, 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.