MN--Serial predator priest is finally defrocked; Victims respond
For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 3, 2016
A Minnesota priest who was first accused of molesting kids has finally, decades later, been defrocked by Vatican officials. He began abusing youngsters within months of being ordained, continues to deny any wrongdoing and continues to live in the Twin Cities.
Instead of being honest about what Fr. Joseph L. Wajda did, Twin Cities Archbishop Bernard Hebda said did what Catholic officials have done for decades. He minimized child sexual abuse and kept Catholics and citizens in the dark using deliberately vague language.
We hope the defrocking of Fr. Wajda will bring some comfort to his victims. But Hebda’s duty doesn’t end here.
Kids are safest when child molesters are jailed. So Hebda must go to every parish where Fr. Wajda worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. He must spread the same message through clear and repeated notices in parish bulletins, on church websites and in pulpit announcements, prodding those with information or suspcions to call law enforcement. That’s what a truly caring shepherd would do.
Catholic bishops can’t recruit, educate, ordain, transfer and shield predator priests and then suddenly walk away – saying “He’s not our guy anymore” – and let parents, police, prosecutors and the public fend for themselves. Hebda and his staff, knowing what Fr. Wajda has done, have a duty to help prod others who could put this predator behind bars behind bars.
And Hebda should turn over every shred of information he has about Fr. Wajda to police. He should insist that every other Minnesota cleric should do the same, whether they have actual knowledge or just suspicions about this predator.
He worked in Crystal, Roseville, Waconia, Loretto, Columbia Heights, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and studied in Washington DC (at Catholic University).
No matter what lawmakers or 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 churches or institutions o protect 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 SNAPnetwork.org)