The Diocese of New Ulm is suing other churches

Categories: Crime, Religion
The Church of St. Thomas in the Diocese of New Ulm
A Catholic diocese in Minnesota is suing both a diocese in Ireland and a controversial religious order, shifting responsibility for a dead priest who allegedly abused several children.

A lawsuit filed in February by the Diocese of New Ulm claims it never would have brought that priest into a Granite Falls parish in the 1980s had it known the truth of his past, according to a report by MPR and KARE-11.

See also:
Francis Hoefgen: Portrait of an abusive priest

The priest in question is Father Francis Markey, an Irishman who was ordained in 1952 and assigned to a parish in the Diocese of Clogher. While there he was accused of abusing minors -- and suspended from ministry -- at least three times before clerics booted him out of the country in 1981.

Markey went first to the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, for treatment, despite repeated warnings over the years from its founder that the facility could do little for sexually deviant clerics.

Thumbnail image for markey.jpg
Father Francis Markey's mug shot
"These men," wrote Father Gerald Fitzgerald, "are devils and the wrath of God is upon them... It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat -- but even an island is too good for these vipers..."

By 1982, Markey had been stationed in Granite Falls, where he allegedly abused an 8-year-old boy while serving in the Diocese of New Ulm. The following decade, Markey headed to his new gig as chaplain of the Betty Ford Clinic, and things quieted down.

It wasn't 2010 that Markey was extradited back to Ireland on charges that he anally raped a 15-year-boy back in the late 60s. The old bugger died awaiting trial.

Late last year, the boy who says he was abused in Granite Falls filed a new lawsuit against the Diocese of New Ulm and the Servants of the Paraclete. The diocese, in turn, is blaming the servants and the Irish clerics for failing to warn them about Markey.

This isn't the first time holy men have pointed fingers at one another. In 2003, for instance, the Diocese of San Bernardino sued the Diocese of Boston but later dropped the lawsuit (and filed for bankruptcy on the eve of another trial). Historically, these legal battles have been a handy tool in shifting blame and financial burden.

Patrick Wall, a former priest who investigates clerical sexual abuse crimes, describes church-on-church court cases as a "massive car pile-up." One diocese tries to draw another into its legal mess, he says, and alert bill collectors that liability should be spread around.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to

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k2yeb topcommenter

As a Catholic who wore a uniform through to my first day in college, the church has very obviously lost its way. They will really regret these actions when the old and paranoid are dead and the internet age is looking for faith. 

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Too many enablers of the Catholic Church make this possible.  Crappy cops, crappy parents, and sycophantic media people make it easy to cover up the rape of these poor kids.   Fuck pedophile enablers like Joe Soucheray who accused the victims of making this stuff up.  

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Why not? Religion is what has been used to cover up these crimes and abuses.

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Last night on KARE 11 and now this article both refrain from pointing out that Archbishop Nienstedt was the Bishop of New Ulm at the time this took place, and that he's facing being forced to depose himself before a grand jury regarding the Church's pedophile coverups. If you want thorough coverage of this story visit Rick Kupchella's

Andy Nelson
Andy Nelson

please don't bring religion into this. smmfh.


You have to put some of the blame on the parents of these abused children, who instead of reporting to law enforcement went to the church. Blind Faith is never a good thing.

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