MN archbishop will comment on his crisis today; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Thursday, Oct. 24

Statement by Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata, SNAP Minnesota Director                                        

Archbishop John Nienstedt is a coward. His archdiocese is embroiled in scandal. Already wounded clergy sex abuse victims feel re-victimized. And thousands of Nienstedt’s flock feels betrayed.

Based on the on-going recklessness, callousness and deceit by Nienstedt and his colleagues, those feelings are justified.

Yet the 'shepherd' of this 'flock' refuses to talk about the scandal he has largely created, despite repeated pledges, year after year, to be "open and transparent" about clergy sex crimes.

He answers a handful of questions, in writing, from Minnesota Public Radio yesterday and promises he’ll write about this crisis on his website today. Big deal.

That’s cowardice.                                                                                                                                   

Nienstedt isn't alone. Most accused wrongdoers Twin Cities Catholic circles are dodging the media.

St. Thomas University officials are keeping silent about their alleged investigation into a predator priest on their payroll.

Accused enablers - including Fr. Kevin McDonough and Msgr. Peter Laird - are keeping silent.

Accused predator priests - including Fr. Michael Keating and Fr. Jon Shelley - are keeping silent.

Ironically, one predator priests, Fr. Robert Kapoun, has commented. He told Minnesota Public Radio that he rarely sees anyone from the archdiocese. Yet days later, one of Nienstedt’s top public relations staffer claimed that Fr. Kapoun was being supervised.

And in another irony, Nienstedt and his staff are even keeping silent about whether they've hired a Boston-based public relations firm, Rasky Baerlein, the one that helped Cardinal Seán O'Malley orchestrate then-Pope Benedict's visit with a handful of hand-picked clergy sex abuse victims several years ago.,

(Child molesting clerics didn’t hurt kids because Archbishop John Nienstedt has too few public relations advisors. Bringing on even more PR professionals is bad move. What’s needed is real reform, not more smoke and mirrors. An obsession with spin is part of the self-serving strategies that have enabled more predators to hurt more kids. Public relations professionals work to improve wrongdoers’ images, but the concern should be on the protection of the innocence not the reputations of complacent or complicit.)

Add to this the fact that Catholic officials won't say who's on Nienstedt’s ‘review board’ that found a child sex abuse report against Fr. Michael Keating “inconclusive.”

None if this is being “open and transparent” as Catholic officials have long pledged to be in clergy sex cases.

All of it is more proof that the self-serving secrecy that got Twin Cities Catholic officials into this mess continues.

How does any of this secrecy and silence make even one child one bit safer? It doesn’t.

(NOTE: the archdiocesan review board is different from the new archdiocesan panel just set up. The former looks at actual cases of reported abuse. The latter is looking at church internal abuse procedures. The membership of the former is secret. The membership of the latter is not.)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Bob Schwiderski (952 471 3422, [email protected])

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