MN--Victims skeptical of Catholic “listening sessions”

For immediate release: Friday, July 17

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

We’re skeptical of the just-announced so-called “listening sessions” focused on clergy sex crimes in St. Cloud. They seem more about getting good public relations and mollifying parishioners than about preventing crimes and ending cover ups (especially because in this small diocese, at least 63 Catholic clerics are publicly accused child molesters).  

If Bishop Donald Kettler is serious about keeping kids safe, we urge him to put Fr. James Thoennes in a remote, secure, independent treatment center that’s far away from the Minnesota families he has befriended. Right now, he’s allegedly supervised by his church colleagues. Those kinds of cozy arrangements are rarely effective.  

(Fr. Thoennes: worked at St. Anthony’s, St. Cloud; St. Mary’s, Melrose; St. Joseph, Waite Park; St. John’s, Foley; St. Anne’s, Kimball; Sacred Heart, Dent; St. Leonard’s, Pelican Rapids; St. Joseph, Bertha; St. Edward’s. Henning; Chaplain, St. Mary’s Villa, Pierz and now lives in St. Cloud.)

And we urge him to make aggressive outreach moves to find victims, witnesses and whistleblowers and prod them to call law enforcement.

It’s not a coincidence that Kettler announces these meetings soon after a judge began to force the bishop to disclose long-secret information about predator priests.

We hope every single person who attends one of these sessions asks Kettler hard questions and prods him to take specific proven steps to expose and remove those who commit or conceal clergy sex crimes. We also hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in St. Cloud will call secular authorities, not church officials.

(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]), Frank Meuers (952-334-5180, [email protected]), Verne Wagner (218- 340-1277, [email protected])  

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