MN- Victims urge IRS investigation of archdiocese, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
A former top Catholic official disclosed yesterday that she was asked to seek tax-exemption in cases where she believed it was “wrong.” In light of this – and widespread deception by others in the Twin Cities Catholic hierarchy - we call on the Internal Revenue Service to begin investigating the St. Paul archdiocese.
In a sworn new court filing yesterday, whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger wrote: "It was a constant struggle to keep Archbishop (Nienstedt) and especially Father (Peter) Laird within the bounds of their legal authority, and there were times when I was instructed by Father Laird to move ahead with an incorporation or, more frequently, to submit an entity for inclusion under the IRS Group Tax Exemption, when I believed that doing so was wrong."
On its face, this revelation, by a clearly honest whistleblower, is worrisome. But it's more problematic given;
– how other Catholic institutions have tried to move and hide assets before and during bankruptcy proceedings,
– how St. Paul church officials have considered seeking bankruptcy protection, and
– how archdiocesan staff have skirted and likely broken both secular and church laws regarding children's safety.
Catholics and citizens should know whether improper financial moves have been made by archdiocesan officials. We hope the IRS moves quickly to follow up on Haselberger's allegations.
Law enforcement officials have been tentative and slow to investigate the archdiocese. We hope the IRS will not be.
In that disturbing 107 page affidavit, Haselberger also said she found;
– repeated instances of a "cavalier attitude" towards the safety of children by Catholic officials and
– about 20 clergy in ministry who were guilty of sexual misconduct with adults and children despite bishops' pledges of “zero tolerance.”
We believe that if St. Paul archdiocesan officials will deceive people about children's safety, they're very likely to deceive people about church finances too.
We commend Jennifer Haselberger, again, for her courage and compassion. We applaud her determination, year after year, to try and prod self-serving, career-fixated Twin Cities Catholic officials to act with integrity and prudence in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.
(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 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)