Statement Regarding January 10 Letter to Ramsey County Court

On Friday, January 10, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis complied with a request from Ramsey County Court Judge John Van de North to provide recommendations for handling accusations of sexual abuse of minors that have been made known to the archdiocese after 2004. In our letter to the judge, we laid out a fair process for doing so. We also respectfully expressed our concern that the rights of clergy who may have been falsely accused must be protected. We are seeking the same reasonable rights and opportunity for justice afforded to any citizen.

At the same time, we strongly assert, independent of our pursuit of justice for those who are falsely accused, the importance of disclosure of credible claims of abuse for the protection of children and healing for victims.

Our goals, and the basis for every action and decision we are making, remain the protection of children, the healing of victims, and the restoration of trust of the faithful and our clergy who are serving our communities nobly and with honor. We have been transparent about our actions to meet these goals, including the formation of an independent Task Force to examine our policies and practices and the engagement of a professional and experienced outside firm, Kinsale, to conduct a thorough review of our clergy files. Both of these processes are underway and will continue with both serious attention to detail and sense of import until complete.

Further, and of great importance, on October 24, 2013, we made a commitment to prudent and ongoing disclosure. We have kept that promise and we will continue to keep it. In November, we asked the Court to allow us to make disclosures and, after the Court granted our request in December, we disclosed the names of approximately 30 priests. Kinsale is continuing to do a thorough review of hundreds of clergy files and we are committed to continue to make prudent disclosures during the file review. We sincerely seek to make disclosure, not delay disclosure. Evidencing our commitment to disclosure, just two weeks ago, as a result of our file review and out of an abundance of caution, we publically disclosed the names of two priests, one of whom had a boundary violation and the other of whom had more than one boundary violation. A boundary violation is inappropriate behavior that does not necessarily constitute either criminal activity or sexual abuse. Both of these priests agreed to take a leave of absence in order to allow for a complete review. Consistent with our policy, these priests will remain out of active ministry until the reviews are completed. No clergy member who is found to have a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor will ever be returned to active ministry.

We have been and will continue to make prudent disclosure on an ongoing basis. This principle of disclosure is unwavering. We have been doing this, and will continue to do so, even as we work through the details of that disclosure separately with the Court.

As it relates to the Court, the most important thing to know is this: we look forward to working with the Court in establishing a reasonable and fair process that acknowledges victims and protects children, while also ensuring the rights of all are respected. We have set forth such a proposal in our letter for consideration by the Court.

We reiterate what we have stated for many years: we urge anyone who suspects abuse of a minor within Church ministry to first call civil authorities. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual misconduct in Church ministry, you are also encouraged to call the archdiocesan Director of Advocacy and Victim Assistance at 651-291-4497.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is committed to our goals to protect children, care for victims, and restore trust of the faithful and our clergy who are serving our communities nobly and with honor. We are filled with sorrow about the harm caused by abuse and remain steadfast in our effort to prevent abuse from occurring in the future.