MN--MN bishop won’t release abuse investigation into archbishop

For immediate release: Wednesday, Aug. 3

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

Minnesota’s top Catholic official will keep hidden an investigation into his predecessor who’s accused of concealing child sex crimes, committing sexual misconduct and retaliating against some who rebuffed his sexual advances.   

Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s honeymoon is over. He’s brought it to a crashing end by continuing the hurtful secrecy of his predecessors, including Archbishop John Nienstedt. Worse, Hebda is making it easier for Nienstedt to hurt others and more likely that Nienstedt will. And he’s discouraging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to speak up about sexual violence and cover ups.

If Nienstedt has sexually exploited vulnerable young adults before – and considerable evidence suggests he has - then he’s certainly capable of doing so again.

Imagine how much it hurts if you’re one of the nine priests or seminarians who summoned the strength to cooperate with the investigation, in the hopes of stopping Nienstedt from assaulting others. And imagine how you feel if you’re one of the two dozen “leads” that investigators were essentially stopped from questioning.

What’s the lesson here for victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and concerned Catholics?  “I may as well keep my mouth shut,” you’ll likely feel “because nothing will really change.”

Since Nienstedt’s wrongdoing remains largely hidden, he’s free to travel the world enjoying all the perks of belonging to the Catholic hierarchy. Freed up from the often mundane duties of running a diocese, Nienstedt has more time than ever before to groom unsuspecting young men and sexually exploit them.

Hebda’s excuses for being secretive and endangering others are pathetic. It wouldn’t be “wise” to come clean with police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public, Hebda basically says. Much of what’s in the investigation is already known, Hebda claims. That’s either baloney, irrelevant or both. Like hundreds of Catholic officials across the US, Hebda has repeatedly pledged to be “open” about clergy abuse cases. And like hundreds of Catholic officials across the US, Hebda is breaking his word.

No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic schools, seminaries churches or institutions to protect vulnerable adults and innocent kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

(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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


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