Archdiocese to release names of accused priests on Thursday [UPDATE]

Categories: Religion
Nienstedt.jpg
Archbishop John Nienstedt was the subject of our June 20, 2012, cover story.
-- Updated with a statement the Diocese of Winona --

After years of resistance, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has vowed to reveal the names of priests suspected of sexually abusing children through its website and newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, as soon as Thursday.

A Ramsey County judge Monday gave his blessing on the release and set a deadline of Dec. 17. Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials would comply with the order but declined to comment on how many names would be released.

MPR reports that the archdiocese is considering withholding four of the 33 names on a list that was compiled in 2004 and later sealed by the court. Supposedly relying on a third-party review of its files, the archdiocese has suggested that the claims against three men could not be substantiated and another never served within its boundary.

SEE ALSO: Archbishop John Nienstedt crusades against gay marriage

A statement from the archdiocese says the information to be released Thursday -- including the current whereabouts of the accused -- is related to incidents that occurred between the mid 1950s and 80s. All of the men are either dead or no longer in the ministry.

Here's the rest of the statement:
These disclosures are not intended to be final. A comprehensive review of clergy files is ongoing presently and the list will be updated regularly as additional announcements are made in the future. This new level of disclosure is part of a comprehensive and cohesive set of actions we have been taking this fall to address the issues associated with clergy sexual misconduct in our archdiocese. These disclosure practices may evolve in the future as we progress with our disclosure, including recommendations that may be made by the independent task force or through the review of our clergy files by an outside firm.

Our goals are to protect the young and vulnerable, care for victims of abuse, and restore trust among the laity, as well as our clergy who are serving honorably. Those who have been victimized by these horrible crimes have been deeply hurt. It is our hope that disclosure of these names can assist victims in their healing process. Any sexual abuse of minors by clergy members cannot and will not be tolerated. As we have previously stated, anyone having knowledge of clergy sexual misconduct should immediately call law enforcement and is encouraged to notify the archdiocese.
Last month, the St. Paul police department denied reports that Nienstedt and other church officials were under investigation in connection with possible child porn found on a computer that belonged to the Rev. John Shelley. Whether it'll stay that way after is an open question. Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, said the department's hands are tied until the list comes out on Thursday.

"We've got to wait to wait," he said. "We're totally reactionary at this point."

A Ramsey County judge Monday also ordered the Diocese of Winona to release the names of 13 priests suspected of sexually abusing children. It has yet to comment publicly.

::: UPDATE :::

The Diocese of Winona says it will "fully cooperate" with the judge's order but has not given a precise date. Click through to the next page to read it in full.


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