MN- Victims blast MN archdiocesan abuse report

For immediate release: Monday, April 14 

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, [email protected])

Once again we have a very lengthy Catholic church report that claims 'mistakes' have been made and implying that some minor 'tweaks' in job titles and church policies will make abuse by clergy and cover ups by bishops a problem in the past. That is, of course, silly and deceptive.

It's worth noting that

--the archdiocesan recklessness and callousness have already been exposed numerous times by law enforcement, news sources, court documents and brave survivors. This report admits – in very “toned down” terms - what everyone already knows and has known for months or years.

--the vague acknowledgment that 'people at the top' have made 'mistakes' is old news and deceitful. They have engaged in criminal behavior. (Interestingly enough, the word 'crime' is only mentioned just three times in 56 pages.)

--church officials will allegedly do internal 'audits' of an internal program created by them for themselves and then tell us how they are doing. On its face, that's not an objective or effective process.

-- nowhere in the report does it say call police or law enforcement.  

The panel claims that “The Archdiocese concentrated too much power in one or two individuals to make decisions regarding allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors.” Sadly, no matter how much “tweaking” Catholic officials do, this will remain unchanged, because the church is a rigid, ancient, secretive, self-serving hierarchy.

“These individuals were not subject to adequate oversight,” the panel claims. And of course “these individuals” will never get “adequate oversight” because, again, the church is a rigid, ancient, secretive, self-serving hierarchy.

We agree that “processes and decisions have appeared secretive,” But that's because they were, and still are, in fact “secretive.” It's naïve to pretend or believe otherwise.

Remember, Catholic officials have dealt with clergy sex crimes and cover ups for centuries and publicly for decades.

The task force also found that communication related to child abuse within the Archdiocese, as well as between the archdiocese and its church members and public, “has been inadequate and, at times, nonexistent.”

It's laughable that this panel blames “outdated systems” for deliberate decisions by dozens of Catholic officials. As long as we act like these are “mistakes” and not intentional, self-serving choices by smart but selfish men, kids will continue being hurt and crimes will continue being concealed.

Some will be encouraged that this panel concludes “Media attention and litigation during recent months have suggested that decisions by this Archdiocese put children at risk. Behavioral warning signs were minimized or inappropriately rationalized. . .”

We are not encouraged. This is stating the obvious, and doing so in the safest way possible: without naming those who ignored, hid, minimized or enabled heinous crimes against children.

We are also not encouraged that this panel claims “a flawed organizational structure with little oversight and accountability created opportunities for some priests to harm.” The real problem isn't “structure,” it's selfishness by top Catholic officials who are preoccupied with their power, prestige and promotions rather than with the safety of kids or the well-being of victims.

No matter how much church-appointed panels write about and fixate on 'structures' and 'policies,' nothing will change because the archbishop has always had and will always have all the power. Only aggressive investigation and prosecution by secular officials will help.

Two final points 

It's cowardly to claim you want to help reform an unhealthy, secretive, rigid, all-male monarch but refuse to do interviews or speak publicly about your efforts. We are very disappointed that members of this hand-picked panel are mimicking the very church secrecy that has put and still puts innocent kids in harm's way.  

And calling someone or something "independent" doesn't' make it so. This panel is headed by a priest who is a lawyer and is hand-picked by the archbishop. It is NOT independent.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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, [email protected]), Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata (952-471-3422, [email protected])Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, [email protected])


Showing 1 comment

  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2014-04-15 19:51:53 -0500
    Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis – Director of Task Force, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
    “Canon law is very eloquent on what a bishop is supposed to do, but there is no list of Thou Shalt Nots,” says Father Reginald Whitt (2002). “These (sex abusers) are criminals, but they are our criminals and we can’t lose them. Indeed, the bishops have a duty to try to save them,” says the Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. (2002)“……BISHOPS HAVE A DUTY TO TRY TO SAVE THEM (sex abuser priests)…..”

    Well, Fr. Whitt, where is it written (no, not in text or canon law…….it is written in one’s heart and soul) that the bishops have a duty to try to save the CHILDREN ABUSED and INNOCENT CHILDREN from the risk of abuse? Seems like little has changed since these issues were studied over a decade ago by during the Dallas Charter Charade of the USCCB. Father Whitt has a degree in canon law and civil law. Which perspective will take prominence and priority when he reviews the findings of the task force committee he established to review the debacle in the archdiocese?

    It is humanly, ethically and morally IMPOSSIBLE to avoid/resolve the conflicts of interest from both perspectives (civil and canon law) when attempting to review and support the rights of priests vs the rights of child victims.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant