Minnesota Catholic Archdiocese to Release Names of Abusive Priests

A Roman Catholic Church Archdiocese located in Minnesota has announced that it will release a list of priests who have serious allegations of sexual abuse later this month.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis made the announcement Monday in the form of an open letter by Archbishop Rev. John Nienstedt.  James Accurso, media and external relations manager with the Archdiocese, provided The Christian Post with a copy of the open letter.  "Further, to demonstrate our commitment to the safety of minors and transparency, we will be disclosing information about priests who are known by us to have Charter violations," wrote Nienstedt.

"…the Archdiocese will be disclosing the names, locations and status of priests who are currently living in the Archdiocese, and who we know have substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors. All of these men have been removed from ministry."

Nienstedt also acknowledged in his open letter that "serious mistakes" were made regarding "the archdiocese's handling of abuse cases."

"Offering expressions of regret and sorrow seems so inadequate in the context of the crimes of the offenders and our failures to deal with them properly. And yet, I must say how sorry I am. My heart is heavy for the victims of this repugnant abuse," wrote Nienstedt.  "Only with the understanding and sharing of this information will we begin to heal and rebuild our relationship of trust. There is nothing more important."

Initially, the Archdiocese had been opposed to disclosing the names of priests accused of sexual abuse out of concern that some might have been falsely accused, reported The Associated Press.

"The about-face comes amid a Minnesota Public Radio News report about another priest accused of misconduct. The archdiocese says Clarence Vavra admitted he engaged in sexual contact with young boys decades ago," reported AP.

"MPR reported the 74-year-old was transferred 17 times over 38 years and currently lives in New Prague."

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is critical of the move taken by the Archdiocese.

In a written statement provided by SNAP via email to The Christian Post, Clohessy said that the releasing of names will not include those living outside of the Archidocese.

"If Twin Cities pedophile priests now live in Rochester or Winona or Duluth, tough luck. We're not gonna tell you who or where they are. That's the message Archbishop John Nienstedt is sending to Minnesota parents," said Clohessy.  "If a Twin Cities pedophile priest sexually assaulted you and is now deceased, tough luck. We're not gonna disclose the names of any deceased predator, no matter how many kids he's hurt, how recently he died or how egregiously we covered up for him."

Clohessy also stated that he believed Nienstedt was making this announcement "to divert attention away from the most disturbing revelations yet in the continuing cover up crisis in his archdiocese."

"Neinstedt and his top aides kept silent for years (perhaps decades) about an admitted serial predator priest whose name hasn't been made public until today, Fr. Clarence Vavra," said Clohessy.

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