MN--New disclosures aren’t enough
For immediate release: Thursday, October 23
Statement by Frank Meuers of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (952-334-5180, [email protected])
We are glad the names of four newly "outed" predator priests are surfacing today, especially because three of them are likely living among unsuspecting neighbors in Massachusetts, and Arizona and Forest Lake, MN. (Fr. Donald Drummer, Fr. Robert P. Clark and Fr. John Owens, respectively). But police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public need and deserve to know where and when these priests assaulted children. Archbishop Neinstedt must be more forthcoming if kids are to be better protected and victims are to be better supported.
Catholic officials are NOT disclosing when abuse reports were made against these priests. We suspect that in virtually every case, St. Paul church employees sat on this information for years or decades.
Let’s look specifically at the four newly-named priests. With each of them, Twin Cities Catholic officials kept secret about the child sex abuse allegations against them for years. This secrecy continued unabated over the past decade, despite an allegedly binding national US bishops’ abuse policy that supposedly mandates “openness and transparency.”
They hid accusations against Fr. Clark for at least 14 years, against Fr. Owens for at least nine years, and against Fr. Drummer for at least eight years. Among just those three clerics, that’s 31 years of secrecy, recklessness and callousness.
(Fr. Clark was “removed from active ministry on March 26, 2002.” Fr. Owens was quietly ousted in 2005. Ditto with Fr. Drummer in 2006. And we suspect that allegations against Fr. Majerus were first made in 1971, but he stayed on the job until 1987.)
This new information confirms again just how much St. Paul Catholic officials have endangered and continue to endanger kids. In each case, Twin Cities church officials chose to endanger kids and protect predators by making these moves behind the scenes instead of disclosing them in public.
So today's news again proves just how deceitful and self-serving top officials in the St. Paul archdiocese have been for years. We fear they continue to be secretive and self-serving unless forced to do otherwise by police, prosecutors, parishioners and, most of all, brave and determined victims who file lawsuits.
We are disappointed that Catholic officials aren't telling parents where and when these crimes happened. They say these credibly accused child molesting clerics abused outside the archdiocesan boundaries. If we understand the archdiocese's language in its website post, these priests might have sexually assaulted a St. Paul boy on a fishing trip to northern Minnesota or a a Minneapolis girl on retreat in Chicago. Or these priests may have molested elsewhere and been quietly accepted by the Twin Cities archdiocese for ministry despite previous abuse.
Clearly, Archbishop John Neinstedt has been forced to disclose this information. But he should voluntarily give more information about not only these predators but about his own employees who shielded them.
On the positive side, it's worth noting that there's less "hair-splitting" here than usually for Catholic officials. In most cases, bishops keep secrets about predator priests who are from other dioceses or who belong to religious order. So we are grateful to Doe for insisting that disclosures about these predator priests are made.
It seems clear that Neinstedt will only do what he's legally obligated to do. So it's crucial that more victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers continue to step forward, get help, and expose those who commit and conceal heinous crimes against kids.
(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, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Verne Wagner 218-340-1277, [email protected]