MN--Notorious MN predator priest defrocked
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 11
Statement by Frank Meuers of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (952-334-5180, [email protected])
Father Curtis Wehmeyer has apparently been defrocked by the Vatican. The recklessness and callousness shown by Twin Cities Catholic officials in this case is among the most egregious that we've seen in the past decade.
This move is a decades-late drop in the bucket. When church officials defrock predator priests, it's less about safeguarding kids. It's more about church damage control. Still, we are grateful that Wehmeyer has been ousted from the priesthood. Without that Roman collar and the respect that accompanies it, he will find it a bit harder to win the trust of parents, gain access to kids, and sexually assault them after he is released from prison.
It's crucial to remember that basically no Catholic supervisors have been punished, worldwide, for enabling and hiding horrific clergy sex crimes. The Pope must start defrocking clerics who cover up sex crimes (like Nienstedt), not just clerics who commit them (like Wehmeyer). Until that happens, little will change.
So why the alleged increase in defrocked pedophile priests in recent years? It's likely because more victims across the globe are gaining the strength and courage to come forward and are reporting to (and pressuring) church officials because archaic, predator-friendly secular laws prevent most victims from seeking justice in court. And it's likely because more bishops are convincing Vatican officials that defrocking predators is a smart public relations and legal defense strategy. Cutting all ties with the most egregious serial sex offender clerics helps convince Catholics that progress is being made.
Catholic officials pretend that once a child molesting cleric is defrocked, their duty is over. It's not. Bishops' duty to protect others from these dangerous men does not end when they are defrocked. Nor does their duty to seek out more victims end when predator priests are defrocked.
It's irresponsible for Catholic officials to recruit, educate, ordain, train, transfer and protect predator priests, then defrock them when they're caught and the heat gets too intense. Catholic officials should help make sure child molesting clerics are criminally prosecuted. If that can't happen, then Catholic officials should house them in remote, secure treatment centers. And Catholic officials should lobby for, not against, reforming outdated, secular laws that enable many who commit and conceal child sex crimes to escape punishment.
Nienstedt should personally go to every parish where Wehmeyer worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors, so that me might be charged with more child sex crimes and kept away from kids and so that other current and former church staff who helped conceal his crimes might be prosecuted. Until that happens, we can take little comfort in the belated defrocking of this predator.
And as we've said before, Nienstedt should post on his archdiocesan website – for the safety of kids and the healing of victims – the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives or lived or works or worked in the St. Paul Archdiocese, whether living or deceased, diocesan or religious order. Until that happens, it's hard to believe there's any real progress.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, [email protected], Verne Wagner of Duluth, Northeast MN (Duluth, MN & Superior, WI) SNAP director (218- 340-1277, [email protected])