MN - Catholic priest loses at MN Supreme Court; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013

Statement by SNAP leader Megan Peterson (218-689-9049,

A law banning clergy from sexual contact with congregants has been upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. This is a victory for every man and woman who has been sexually exploited by priests, ministers, rabbis and other clerics.

We are grateful that Minnesota's highest court has upheld a law criminalizing the sexual exploitation of adults by clergy.

At the same time, we are saddened that Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt let one of his priests (Fr. Christopher Wenthe) challenge this law.

It is inherently problematic when clergy have any sexual contact with congregants. There can be no true "consent" given the power difference between the individuals.

Our society has long understood that it's virtually always hurtful when a doctor has any sex with a patient or a psychologist has any sex with a client. Gradually, more people finally understand that the same holds true of a cleric and his or her congregant.

We hope this ruling will help others who were hurt by what may have initially seemed like “affairs” but were in fact crimes. We hope those victimized by clergy at any age will find the courage to step forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.

And we hope this ruling will discourage Minnesota Catholic officials from letting or encouraging their clerics who commit crimes – against kids or adults – from trying to overturn sound public safety laws.

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,, Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell,, Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,, Bob Schwiderski, SNAP Minnesota director (952 471 3422,

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