The top deputy at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned Thursday amid new criticism of how the church mishandled alleged sexual abuse by priests.
Minnesota Public Radio reports church leaders, including Rev. Peter Laird, knew about sexual misconduct by St. Paul Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, but promoted him anyway.
Wehmeyer is now in prison for abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.
The Archdiocese says Laird's resignation has nothing to do with the sexual abuse reports or the Wehmeyer case.
"When you're caught doing wrong, you have two choices," said a statement from Bob Schwiderski, Minnesota Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "You can stop doing wrong. Or you can try even harder to hide your wrongdoing. Twin Cities' Catholic officials are doing the latter."
SNAP said there are only two ways to protect children in the Catholic church in the Twin Cities:
1. "Every single Catholic church employee and member - current and former - must search his or her conscience and find the courage to call police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups and other independent sources of help. Every shrewd of knowledge or suspicion about possible clergy sex crimes and cover ups must be turned over to law enforcement - no matter how small, old or seemingly insignificant."
2. "A full and aggressive law enforcement investigation into clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Twin Cities is crucial. Every single current and former Catholic employee who ignored, concealed and enabled child sex crimes - from archbishop to administrator - must be exposed, removed, and prosecuted."
ARCHDIOCESE STATEMENT (OCT. 4)
Over the past few days, there have been multiple media reports concerning the conduct of a number of priests going back many years. Unfortunately, these reports are incomplete and leave a false impression about the commitment of the Archdiocese to identify and address misconduct by priests. It is critical to understand that our standard is zero tolerance for sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult and absolute accountability.
Since 2002 we have implemented a long list of policy and procedural reforms to clarify guidelines and strengthen enforcement. Some of the actions we have taken include completing more than 3,000 adult safe environment training sessions for approximately 70,000 adults; conducting 105,000 background checks on clergy, staff and volunteers; and providing over 100,000 children with age-appropriate lessons to help keep them safe.
As a further demonstration of our commitment to handling these matters aggressively and consistently, we have formed a special task force and charged them with conducting a full review of our policies and practices. When the report is complete, the findings and recommendations will be released publicly.
We are deeply sorry for any harm that has come from clergy misconduct. Eliminating any form of abuse is the highest priority for the Archdiocese. Our record is not perfect, but we have made great progress, and we are determined to do whatever is necessary to eliminate this problem.