For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 11, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
In a long string of horrific revelations over the past few weeks about clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Twin Cities archdiocese, today’s disclosures may be the worst.
Why are the revelations about Fr. Clarence Vavra potentially the worst yet?
Because he’s an admitted serial pedophile and because he’s never been “outed” until today, so who knows how many more kids he’s been able to sexually assault because Twin Cities Catholic officials continue to act selfishly and secretively.
For almost 19 years (and likely longer), a top ranking archdiocesan staffer has known that Fr. Vavra admitted sexually assaulting kids.
For at least a year and a half (and likely longer), the current Twin Cities archbishop has known that Fr. Vavra admitted sexually assaulting kids.
Still, neither Fr. Kevin McDonough nor Archbishop John Neinstedt has had the decency to disclose this fact to Fr. Vavra’s current or former neighbors, colleagues, parishioners or relatives (not to mention police and prosecutors).
Can Catholic officials be more irresponsible and selfish?
Until today’s report by Minnesota Public Radio, virtually no one outside the Twin Cities archdiocesan headquarters knew that Fr. Vavra admitted molesting Native American kids at a South Dakota reservation.
Could Catholic officials find a more vulnerable group to kids to secretly assign a predator priest to work with?
For years, because of the callousness of Neinstedt and McDonough and others, this admitted predator priest continued to live and work with little or no supervision, being sent from parish to parish, and given a fresh group of kids to potentially molest.
Documents disclosed by MPR show that:
--- Fr. McDonough knew about Fr. Vavra’s admitted crimes in the mid-1990s, and
--- Archbishop Neinstedt knew about Fr. Vavra’s admitted crimes in February 2012.
(We strongly suspect that both men knew long before these dates. And we strongly suspect that other current and former top Catholic officials in the Twin Cities have also known for years about Fr. Vavra’s admissions.)
And for a year and a half, Archbishop Neinstedt deliberately chose to tell no one about Fr. Vavra’s crimes. And for almost 19 years, Fr. McDonough deliberately chose to tell no one about Fr. Vavra’s crimes.
Could Twin Cities Catholic officials have handled this worse? They can and did. Last year, Fr. Vavra presided over a funeral in Minnesota, even though he was supposedly forbidden to act like a priest in public.
Neinstedt’s response was apparently to do nothing.
So if one suspended predator priest in Minnesota has been caught still saying mass in public in 2012, almost twenty years after admitting molesting children, we can’t help but wonder how many other suspended and admitted predator priests are engaged in ministry right now, like Fr. Vavra, among unsuspecting Catholics?